Current Vaccines Developed Using Human Cell Strains
Two main human cell strains have been used to develop currently available vaccines, in each case with the original fetal cells in question obtained in the 1960s. The WI-38 cell strain was developed in 1961 in the United States, and the MRC-5 cell strain (also started with fetal lung cells) was developed in 1965 in the United Kingdom. No new or additional fetal cells are required in order to sustain the two cell strains.
The vaccines below were developed using either the WI-38 or the MRC-5 cell strains.
Hepatitis A vaccines [VAQTA/Merck, Havrix/GlaxoSmithKline, and part of Twinrix/GlaxoSmithKline]
Rubella vaccine [MERUVAX II/Merck, part of MMR II/Merck, and ProQuad/Merck]
Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine [Varivax/Merck, and part of ProQuad/Merck]
Zoster (shingles) vaccine [Zostavax/Merck]
Adenovirus Type 4 and Type 7 oral vaccine [Barr Labs] *
Rabies vaccine [IMOVAX/Sanofi Pasteur] *
* Vaccine not routinely given
Several vaccines currently available in the United States were developed using animal cell lines, primarily using cells from African green monkeys. These include vaccines against Japanese encephalitis, rotavirus, polio, and smallpox. Of these, only rotavirus and polio vaccines are routinely given.
Sources and Additional Reading
Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2002.
Barr Labs. Package Insert - Adenovirus Type 4 and Type 7 Vaccine, Live, Oral. 2011. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM247515.pdf. (179 KB). Accessed 7/31/14.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Elimination of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome--United States, 1969-2004. MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 2005. 54 (11): 27982. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5411a5.htm. Accessed 7/31/14.
GlaxoSmithKline. Package Insert Havrix. 2011. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM224555.pdf. (123 KB). Accessed 7/31/2014.
GlaxoSmithKline. Package Insert Hepatitis A Inactivated & Hepatitis B (Recombinant) Vaccine. 2011. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM110049.pdf. (332 KB). Accessed 7/31/2014.
Lindquist JM, Plotkin SA, Shaw L, Gilden RV, Williams ML. Congenital rubella syndrome as a systemic infection: studies of affected infants born in Philadelphia, USA. Br Med J 1965;2:1401-6.
Merck & Co, Inc. Package Insert Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Virus Vaccine Live. 2009. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM123789.pdf. (196 KB). Accessed 7/31/2014.
Merck & Co, Inc. Package Insert MERUVAX II. 2006. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM142553.pdf. (88.6 KB). Accessed 7/31/2014.
Merck & Co, Inc. Package Insert Refrigerator-Stable Formulation ProQuad. 2010. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM123793.pdf. (448 KB). Accessed 7/31/2014.
Merck & Co, Inc. Package Insert VAQTA Hepatitis A Vaccine, Inactivated. 2011. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM110049.pdf. (332 KB). Accessed 7/31/2014.
Merck & Co, Inc. Package Insert Varivax (Frozen). 2010. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM142813.pdf. (220 KB). Accessed 7/31/2014.
Merck & Co, Inc. Package Insert Zostavax. 2011. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM132831.pdf. (159 KB). 7/31/2014.
National Catholic Bioethics Center. FAQ on Vaccines. 2006. Available at: http://www.ncbcenter.org/page.aspx?pid=1284. Accessed 7/31/2014.
National Network for Immunization Information. Human Fetal Links with Some Vaccines. 2010. Available at http://www.immunizationinfo.org/issues/vaccine-components/human-fetal-links-some-vaccines. Accessed 7/31/2014.
Plotkin SA. The History of Rubella and Rubella Vaccination Leading to Elimination. Clin Infect Dis. 2006 43 (Supplement 3): S164-S168.
Plotkin SA, Orenstein WA, Offit PA, eds. Vaccines. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2008.
Sanofi Pasteur. Package Insert ACAM2000. 2009. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM142572.pdf. (285 KB). Accessed 7/31/2014.
Sanofi Pasteur. Package Insert IMOVAX. 2013. Available at http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM133484.pdf. (213 KB). Accessed 7/31/2014.
Sgreccia E. Statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life, including English translation of Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared from Cells Derived from Aborted Human Foetuses. 2005. Available at: http://www.ncbcenter.org/document.doc?id=7. Accessed 7/31/2014.