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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - February 24, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa The Cedar Rapids Gazette: Sun., Feb. 24, 1974    7/k Vacccine Makers Seek To Outwit Fast-Chanqinq Flu Viruses Science Information Service    .    w Science Information Service WASHINGTON. DC. Tho chanced .'ire you have escaped tho flu this year so far. Hut there are two brand now viruses lurking around some where, just waiting to pounce. One of them Us already causing trouble in the Midwest-and tho flu season still has several weeks to run. Flu viruses have a nasty h a b i t of outwitting their human victims. They do so by changing their coats, adopting new disguises so that they are not immediately recognized and destroyed by the defensive forces of our bodies. No sooner do these defenses learn to recognize and cope with one flu virus than another comes along. Influenza is the last of the great plagues. In the winter of 1968-69-some 40 years after the causative vims was isolated, and 30 years after an effective vaccine was developed—the Hong Kong flu epidemic caused the death of between 20,000 and 80,000 Americans. Most of them died from pneumonia, the most notorious of flu’s complications. At that time, the virus had just undergone one of the most dramatic of its periodic changes of character, rendering virtually useless existing vaccines. Last winter, the virus changed again, though this time only slightly. While the Kong Kong vaccine then in ii s e was pretty effective against the new “london” flu, at least 2.200 deaths in 122 U.S. cities were caused by flu and its side effects. Now the virus has done it again. A few days after Thanksgiving, the Bureau of Biologics in Bethesda, Md., the agency responsible for licensing vaccines in the U.S., learned that another new virus had emerged. Known as New Zealand flu, after the country in which it was first isolated, the virus was expected to hit the northern hemisphere this winter. Whether it will replace the london flu, whether it will cause a major epidemic, or whether the existing london flu vaccines will be effective against it, are still unknowns. So far, the signs are that we will escape this year; but flu experts still recall 1965, when a major flu epidemic hit well into March. As Dr. Robert Chanoek of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases puts it: “People who make predictions (about flu) are likely to finish up with egg on their faces.” But the emergence of the new strain is not the only wav that flu continues to outwit medical scientists. like its predecessors the new strain is a variety of the socalled A flu viruses. It is these that are able to undergo the most rapid and frequent changes in character and which are thus responsible for the great global epidemics. But there also Trujillo Is Thinking of Return Try MADRID, Spain (AP) - Thir-| teen years after his family was thrown out of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean, Rha-| dames Trujillo sits comfortably! in his apartment here thinking about comebacks. Balding, twice divorced but j still wealthy, the surviving son! of the late Dominican dictator is turning toward political action, for the first time in his life. “Frankly, it would be easier for me to stay here.” he said. I “But I want to do something for! my country.” The something so far has been to try to form “a movement” that can exert force someday. Beyond tieing strongly nationalistic, Trujillo's movement hits no name or clear aims yet. In fact, he disclaims being the leader. “I will accept whatever job they give me. But as of now I say I do not aspire in any way to be the absolute leader.” It seems clear, however, that without the 31-year old Trujillo, and perhaps much of his money, the movement will not get far. A business man who says he has no financial interests in Spain, Trujillo acknowledges his group has no chance at all of tieing on tilt* ballot iii May when Dominicans are expected to reelect President Joaquin Mala goer to his third four-year term. Trujillo and his advisers are looking instead to I97H, by which time he hopes lo Ik* able to return home, lh* has been iii exile in Spain off and on since 1962. exist Ii flu viruses. These are more stable and cause a milder form of flu. The “divalent” vaccines on the market contain both A and B flu viruses, the Ii strain being one that has been prevalent in the U.S. for over a decade. But now, too, the type B virus has changed its character. First spotted in Bong Kong in June, 1972, the new ii strain failed to come north last winter. This year the signs are that it will sweep across the northern hemisphere. Because of this, a vaccine against the new Ii strain is being given as an extra shot to people receiving the divalent vaccine. The Midwest outbreak is caused by the so-called B-Uong Kong strain. These changes in both flu viruses have meant, of course, that both components of the vaccine used this year are literally out of date. The new Ii strain will hopefully be eon-trolled by the extra shot. And the expectation is that the New Zealand A virus is little enough different from the london virus that existing vaccines will give protection against it. lint of course, no one can be sure. How is it that the flu viruses keep changing as they do, continually outfoxing their human victims? And why cannot vaccines be prepared against new flu strains aa soon as they emerge and before they can cause an epidemic? Scientists think they now have the answer to the first question; and in discovering the way the A flu viruses undergo their big jumps in char acter, researchers are learning how to exploit the virus’ own tricks to solve the second problem Scientists found that the major leaps taken by the llu virus occur when a human flu virus becomes crossed with a flu virus that infects animals. The result is a part-human, part-animal, hybrid virus. (This is the reason why the major new flu viruses come mainly from Southeast Asia, where man and his domestic animals often live in close contact.) Vaccines aimed at such a hybrid were the next step. A vaccine consists of killed or harmless viruses that alert the body’s immune defenses, and allow them to recognize and quickly kill that virus should it ever come along again. But if the virus has changed, that recognition is impaired. With a big change such as that caused by a hybrid, the new virus m«y be completely unrecognizable, and the vaccine confers no protection at all. Fortunately most of the new disguises flu viruses adopt are the result of tiny rather than wholesale changes in their genes. It used to take a full year to gear up for the production of a new flu vaccine once a new strain had been identified. To make vaccines, the virus is grown in fertilized hen’s eggs, some two or three eggs being needed to produce a single dose. The viruses are then killed and purified before they can bo used as a vaccine All this takes time; but one of the trickiest and lengthiest stages was to persuade the new strain to grow in hen’s eggs. Dr. Ed Kilbourne of Mt. Sinai hospital in New York came up with a solution: exploit, the virus’ quick-change artistry, and cross the new strain of virus with an existing strain that reveled in the idea of growing in eggs. A virus could thus be created which had the recognition characteristics of the new strain with the growth characteristics of the old. AII flu vaccines now made in I he U.S. are based on suc h hybrid viruses. The method has simplified and shortened the manufacturing process. But the main reason it takes so long to get a new vaccine on the market is the sheer scale of the operation,* with two or three eggs required for each dose. What is needed is a vaccine that will be effective in much smaller doses. That means, essentially, going to live rather than killed flu vaccines. A live virus will grow and multiply in the body after injection, boosting itself to a level at which the immune system is alerted. A single egg might produce UKK) doses rather than half a dofe. The one tricky requirement of a live vaccine, though, Is that while growing in the body, it must not cause the disease. A number of approaches are being taken towards a live vaccine, but one of the most cunning is being pursued by Dr. Chanoek and his colleagues. Their idea was to find a flu virus that could grow in the nose but not in the lungs,. Such a virus might cause a few sniffles, but not full-blown flu. It is much cooler in the nose than in the lungs, somewhere in the lower 90s rather than 98.4 degrees F. By using chemical agents that induce mutations, he found such a virus, derived from the Asian flu virus. The virus causes only a very mild, almost unnoticed infection, yet a vaccine made from it protects against the disease in the future. Dr. Chanoek is presently crossing this so-called “temperature-sensitive” virus with the new flu strains, hoping to make harmless live versions of the the new flu viruses as they pop up. From his work may come a vaccine that will be more effective in giving protection, and which can also be made in large quantities quickly. 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Clippings and Obituaries for the Cedar Rapids Gazette