A procedure to attenuate live influenza virus of type A and type B was developed using adaptation of the virus to grow at 25 degrees C (cold adaptation; ca). Through a series of stepwise passages, two stable mutants were obtained and designated as 'Master' strains, one for type A influenza virus (A/Ann Arbor/6/60-H2N2) and one for type B influenza virus (B/Ann Arbor/1/66). These mutants were used in genetic reassortment using either the classical method or more recently described reverse genetics to update the relevant surface antigens of the circulating strains of influenza virus. The derivation is based on the concept of 6/2 where 6 signifies the six internal genes of the master strain and 2 refers to the two genes coding for the two surface glycoproteins HA and NA of the circulating influenza virus. The advantages of this vaccine were demonstrated to be (1) proper level of attenuation, (2) non-transmissibility, (3) genetic stability, (4) presence of the ca and ts markers and (5) immunogenicity involving both local and the cell-mediated immune responses. The clinical trials in infants, children, adults and elderly have provided the necessary data for eventual licensing of this vaccine. The ease of administration (intranasal) safety and high efficacy make this vaccine suitable to prevent influenza virus infection in all age groups.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.