UR Researchers Recruiting Older Adults to Test H7N9 Bird Flu Vaccines

Oct. 15, 2014


Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry are recruiting volunteers between the ages of 50 and 70 to test a vaccine for H7N9, the bird flu virus that first surfaced in China in 2013 and has been on the radar of infectious disease specialists and public health officials ever since.
The good news is that the virus isn’t spreading from person to person; so far, all disease has resulted from direct contact with poultry. But, lead investigator John J. Treanor, M.D., an internationally known flu expert who heads the University’s Vaccine Research Unit, says the disease is still hard to control because the birds that harbor the virus don’t get sick.
“The virus has persisted since its emergence in 2013, which is a warning sign that we need to be working on ways to control it if it starts to spread,” noted Treanor, Chief of Infectious Diseases at UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is following the virus closely and taking the necessary precautions, including testing vaccines. Flu viruses constantly change and it is possible that H7N9 could find a way to spread easily from one person to the next, launching a pandemic.  
UR is testing the H7N9 vaccine in adults age 50 to 70 because that is the group that has been most severely affected in the current outbreak in China. Study participants will receive H7N9 vaccines and will be required to spend time in a local isolation center. Scientists will analyze how the vaccines trigger the production of protective antibodies.
Participants must be in good health, not asthmatic or allergic to eggs and not have traveled to the southern hemisphere in the two weeks prior to initial vaccination. Volunteers will be paid up to $3,900 based on their level of participation. To see if you qualify for a study screening, which involves a mini-physical, health questionnaire and blood work, call 585-273-3990.
The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, using experimental vaccines manufactured by MedImmune (makers of seasonal FluMist®) and Sanofi.