1. The membrane piece technique for in vitro titrations of the infectivity of influenza virus is described. Rectangles of shell, about 8 × 25 mm., with the chorio-allantoic membrane still attached (membrane pieces) are cut from thirteenth-day fertile eggs. One piece in a test-tube with glucose-buffered salt solution forms an individual assay unit. Five or more tubes are inoculated with each virus dilution. After incubation at 37° C. for 72 hr., with agitation for the first 24 hr. the fluid in each tube is tested for haemagglutinins. From the results at each dilution, an estimate of the 50% membrane piece (MP50) infectivity titre is obtained.
2. Six hundred assay units, with pieces cut from twenty eggs, can be set up by two workers in 1 hr. and used for titration of between three and twenty-four individual virus preparations, depending on the reliability desired for the 50% end-point estimates.
3. With the D.S.P. and PR 8 strains of influenza A virus, the MP50 titres parallel the EID50 titres from egg titrations, but are eight times and twenty times lower, respectively. The MP50: EID50 ratio is the same for various preparations of the same strain, including standard allantoic fluid and chorio-allantoic membrane virus, incomplete virus, and inactivated (heated) allantoic fluid virus. Preliminary experiments with Lee influenza B virus show that slightly different experimental conditions are required, and the MP50 titres are about fifty times less than the EID50 titres.
4. Consistent results have been obtained on titration of samples of the same virus preparation on a number of occasions over a period of several months.
5. A large number of membrane pieces can be used to test each virus dilution, and sampling variations in the MP50 estimates thus made quite small. Statistical data on the reliability of a 50 % titration result, and on the minimum significant differences between two end-points, are given for different values of n, the number of membrane pieces used to test each virus dilution, and of d, the log dilution step.
We are grateful to Mr J. Collins for invaluable technical assistance, and also to Miss I. Allen for help with the computations.