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Texas Biomed Developing Potential Bird Flu Vaccine


While human infections of the virus are rare, a strain recently appeared in dairy cows before infecting a human in Texas.



A bird flu vaccine is in the works.

While cases of bird flu in humans have been rare in recent years, the virus still has the potential to make people very sick. This is why researchers at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute are working on potential vaccines for the various strains. According to a press release,1 the vaccine would cover the H5N1 strain and is being developed by researchers in the lab of Professor Luis Martinez-Sobrido, Ph.D.

This news comes on the heels on an unpleasant development with the bird flu. While human cases are still rare, the virus was recently discovered in different species of mammals. A strain of H5N1 was recently detected in cattle for the first time in Texas. This strain made headlines, as it ended up infecting a single human who came into contact with the infected cows.

In a press release, Texas Biomed president and CEO Larry Schlesinger, M.D., said, “Thankfully, the risk of the current H5N1 case becoming widespread among people remains low. But viruses adapt and evolve–especially influenza viruses–which is why it is so critical to be studying them and developing vaccines and treatments well before they are needed."

In the same press release, Ahmed Elsayed, Ph.D, also said, “We still don't know a lot about this virus, for example, what are the genetic determinants that enable this virus to transmit from avian hosts to other mammals?" said Ahmed Elsayed, Ph.D., a Staff Scientist in Martinez-Sobrido's lab. Dr. Elsayed has been studying avian influenza for 16 years and joined Texas Biomed in 2023. "We need to study this virus as a 'One-Health' approach to be able to face it."

Esayed is a staff scientist in Martinez-Sobrido’s lab, and has been working at Texas Biomed since 2023. He has been studying avian influenza for 16 years.

"The genetic sequencing analysis from the CDC indicates that the H5N1 strain found in the patient does not have any mutations associated with resistance to current antiviral drugs," said Martinez-Sobrido. "However, it is important to continue developing an array of countermeasures in case existing ones lose effectiveness."

This is the latest vaccine to be developed by Texas Biomed. In December 2019, the institute announced that it had developed a potential vaccine against the Marburg virus.2 This vaccine is the first of its kind for the deadly virus.

Ricardo Carrion, Jr., Ph. D, is the director of maximum containment contract research at Texas Biomed. In a press release issued at the time, he said, “We have been partnering with Sabin since 2019 and are very excited to see their Marburg vaccine candidate move into Phase 2 clinical trials. An effective vaccine is critical to protect people from this deadly virus, especially as we see the frequency of outbreaks increasing in more places."

Carrion added, “In an outbreak situation, the virus is spreading rapidly, so it is important to know how soon after receiving the vaccine a person would expect to be protected.”

In the same press release, Texas Biomed’s executive vice president for applied science and innovation Cory Hallam, Ph.D, said, “We applaud our partners at Sabin on this significant milestone and are proud that our specialized expertise in biocontainment, filoviruses and animal model development has helped advance Sabin's vaccine candidate forward.”


  1. Texas Biomed researching vaccines and treatments for highly pathogenic avian influenza. Texas Biomedical Research Institute. April 18, 2024. Accessed April 19, 2024. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/texas-biomed-researching-vaccines-and-treatments-for-highly-pathogenic-avian-influenza-302120203.html
  2. Marburg vaccine tested at Texas Biomed moves to Phase 2 clinical trials. Texas Biomedical Research Institute. December 19, 2023. Accessed April 19, 2024. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/marburg-vaccine-tested-at-texas-biomed-moves-to-phase-2-clinical-trials-302019453.html
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