Human Vaccines Project Creates Research Program to Develop Universal Influenza Vaccines

Nov 03, 2017
By BioPharm International Editors

On Oct. 26, 2017, the Human Vaccines Project, a nonprofit public-private partnership, announced the Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative (UIVI), a program that will aim to understand the human immune system’s role in the development of universal influenza vaccines.

"There are many public and private sector resources dedicated to developing new and improved influenza vaccines, but they are all primarily focused on one part of the problem—making the vaccine,” said Wayne C. Koff, PhD, president and CEO of the Human Vaccines Project, in a press release. “What makes the UIVI distinct is that we are focusing on understanding the second part of the puzzle—the human immune response. We have to find out what generates an effective immune response against influenza in all populations in order for a vaccine to be maximally effective."

Beginning in 2018, the UIVI, led by Dr. James Crowe Jr., director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, and Dr. Clarence B. Creech, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, will conduct a series of influenza vaccine clinical trials in globally-diverse populations.

Researchers based at the project's sites at the University of California San Diego, The Scripps Research Institute, the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, the J. Craig Venter Institute, as well as partners at the University of British Columbia and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will conduct a comprehensive analysis of blood and tissue samples from vaccinated and infected individuals. Using artificial intelligence technology, researchers will aim to determine the factors of protection against influenza, and establish why some people are protected while others are more susceptible.

"These trials will be among the most comprehensive human clinical research studies ever undertaken. They will determine how the immune system protects against different strains of influenza in different populations and geographic regions of the world, and what is required for a vaccine to generate long-term protective immunity," said Crowe in the press release. "Understanding how all elements of the human immune system function together to recognize diverse viruses is the key to a universally effective influenza vaccine. Until now, we have lacked the biomedical and computational tools to probe the complex and dynamic features of the human immune system in a complete way. But with today's technology, we can decipher the core principles behind how the immune system protects vulnerable populations, and develop a full understanding of how it prevents and controls influenza to inform the development of a universally effective vaccine."

Source: Human Vaccines Project

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