Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Flu Vaccine Construction Site

PostedOctober 8, 2004

Download File (mp3)

Each year's long flu vaccine production process begins by mixing viruses in chicken eggs.  Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a University of Wisconsin virologist, thinks that should be shelved.  He's using modern genetic engineering techniques to create custom viruses from scratch.  Just twelve building blocks do the trick.  This week, in fact, Kawaoka showed that he could identify the particular "building block" that makes a flu virus most dangerous.  But alter that piece just a little, put the virus back together, and villain becomes vaccine.  Kawaoka says such precise vaccine engineering could produce better flu shots in less time.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.