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Sep 04, 2015
Nature Communications
Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent infection. Influenza vaccines propagated in cultured cells are approved for use in humans, but their yields are often suboptimal. Here, we screened A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (PR8) virus mutant libraries to develop vaccine backbones (defined here as the six viral RNA segments not encoding haemagglutinin and neuraminidase) that support high yield in cell culture. We also tested mutations in the coding and regulatory regions of the virus, and chimeric haemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes. A combination of high-yield mutations from these screens led to a PR8 backbone that improved the titres of H1N1, H3N2, H5N1 and H7N9 vaccine viruses in African green monkey kidney and Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. This PR8 backbone also improves titres in embryonated chicken eggs, a common propagation system for influenza viruses. This PR8 vaccine backbone thus represents an advance in seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccine development.

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