Varicella (chickenpox), rubella, hepatitis A, shingles and one preparation of rabies vaccine are all made in fetal embryo fibroblast cells. These cells were first obtained from elective termination of two pregnancies in the early 1960s. These same embryonic cells obtained from the early 1960s have continued to grow in the laboratory and are used to make vaccines today. No further sources of fetal cells are needed to make these vaccines. Fibroblast cells are the cells needed to hold skin and other connective tissue together.
The reasons that fetal cells were originally used included:
So, as scientists studied these viruses in the lab, they found that the best cells to use were the fetal cells mentioned above. When it was time to make a vaccine, they continued growing the viruses in the cells that worked best during these earlier studies.
Reviewed by: Paul A. Offit, MD
Date: April 2013
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