'Swine Flu' Analysis Nominated for Top US Award

Monday, 8 June 2009

The Center for Disease Control in the United States has announced that a paper on Swine Flu, co-authored by NUI Galway's Professor Anthony Moran, has been nominated for a prestigious US science award. The manuscript Anti-Ganglioside Antibody Induction by Swine and Other Influenza Vaccines: Insights into vaccine-Associated Guillain-Barré Syndrome, was nominated in the Laboratory and Methods category in the 2009 Charles C. Shepard Science Awards. The research concerns the "swine flu" (H1N1) epidemic of 1976 in the US which has some similarity to the present-day AH1N1 outbreak. Over 40 million US citizens were given a swine flu vaccine in 1976. A very small percentage subsequently reported the development of a paralytic disorder, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which is a disorder of the peripheral nervous system that may lead to immobility due to paralysis. However, the link between the vaccine and the development of this syndrome remains to be proven. Professor Anthony Moran of the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, explained: "Our paper dealt with a re-analysis of the 1976 vaccine* and its potential to contribute to GBS development. Using more modern approaches retrospectively on these samples, we were able to show that important safety issues should be considered when producing such vaccines to avoid the development of GBS. Thus, our findings will allow the development of even safer vaccines. This is of central relevance at the present time in producing a new flu vaccine for current usage". Since 1985, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) have presented the Charles C. Shepard Science Award to authors of the most outstanding peer-reviewed research paper published by CDC/ATSDR scientists during the preceding year. The award recognises scientific achievement at CDC/ATSDR and honours the memory of Dr Charles C. Shepard, whose career was marked by the pursuit of scientific excellence. Presently, in addition to honouring publications in three categories – Assessment and Epidemiology, Prevention and Control, and Laboratory and Methods – there is also an award for Lifetime Scientific Achievement. President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, commented on the prestige and relevance of this award: "The US Center for Disease Control is the leading disease surveillance authority worldwide, so the nomination of Professor Moran and his team for this award is highly prestigious and represents an acknowledgement of the internationally significant research being conducted at NUI Galway. I would like to congratulate Professor Moran and his team and wish him well at the award ceremony in June". The Shepard Science Award ceremony will take place at the CDC's Roybal Campus on Monday, June 29, 2009. This year's keynote speaker will be Nobel Laureate, Professor Paul Krugman. He will speak on "Health and the Economic Future".
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