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Universal flu vaccine clinical trials show promise
Date:6/7/2011

GALVESTON, Texas A universal influenza vaccine targeting a protein common to all strains of influenza A has safely produced an immune response in humans. If proven effective, the vaccine could eliminate the practice of creating a new flu vaccine annually to match predicted strains, with major implications for global health.

The results of the clinical trials, led by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in collaboration with biotechnology company VaxInnate and funded by $9.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were published today online in the journal Vaccine.

The vaccine candidate, VAX102, targets a protein known as M2e, found on the surface of the influenza A virus, that has remained relatively unchanged over the last century. VAX102 consists of 4 copies of M2e fused to the protein flagellin, a TLR5 ligand used as an adjuvant. The M2e antigen had been completely unchanged from 1918 until the recent pandemic, making it of interest to researchers searching for a target for the immune response to influenza that would be stable over many seasons.

Unlike traditional flu vaccines, which target antigens that change continuously, the prototype VAX102 represents a vaccine that would not require annual updates, an important barrier to influenza prevention throughout the world. The technology used to produce the candidate vaccine would eliminate many of the limitations of current influenza vaccines, including inefficiencies related to manufacturing such as limited production capability and the inability to change the target antigen should the vaccine not match the circulating strains.

"As we saw in the 2009 influenza pandemic, there is a great public and global health need for a rapid, scalable model for vaccine production," said lead author Christine B. Turley, M.D., Vice Chair for Clinical Services, Department of Pediatrics and a member of UTMB's Sealy Center for Vaccine Development. "If ulti
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Contact: Jim Kelly
jpkelly@utmb.edu
409-772-8791
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

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