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Glaxo pandemic flu vaccine works better than rivals’

GlaxoSmithKline Plc's vaccine against a bird flu virus that may spark a pandemic was effective in about 80% of people who received it in tests, indicating the shot is more effective than those of rivals. The shot was effective at a small dose using a new additive to boost effectiveness, the London-based drugmaker said in an e-mailed statement today. Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis SA has said its experimental vaccine was only 50% effective. Glaxo, Europe's biggest drugmaker, is testing two bird flu inoculations in people, including one with a standard additive. About 30 companies worldwide including Novartis AG's Chiron unit are working on such products as world health officials track the lethal H5N1 strain of avian flu.
Glaxo said its H5N1 vaccine uses a new additive, or adjuvant, to get a strong immune response at a low dose. The adjuvant augments the vaccine's potency, allowing a smaller dose of the immunization to be given and increasing the amount of people who can be inoculated in the event of a pandemic. Glaxo is also testing a shot with a standard aluminum-based additive. Adjuvants, from the Latin word „to help,” are substances used to enhance the ability of an antigen to stimulate the immune system.
At least 133 of the 231 people known to be infected with H5N1 have died, according to the World Health Organization in Geneva. A new death toll was reported this morning from Taiwan, where a young boy died of the infection. (Bloomberg)