Current human influenza vaccines afford only limited protection against seasonal as well as pandemic influenza. As influenza viruses can accumulate three-four amino acids substitutions per year and frequently change antigenically to escape population immunity, vaccine composition has to be updated and vaccines need to be administered annually. As a consequence, persistent monitoring and selection of viruses, production, formulation and conduct of clinical trials to evaluate safety and immunogenicity of the new vaccines are necessary every year. A major shortcoming is therefore that the relatively long production time results in a vaccine that does not always have a sufficient antigenic match with the epidemic strain.
A significant advance in human infectious disease research would be the development of a new generation influenza vaccine that stimulates production of a robust, broadly neutralising antibody (bnAb) response, not only to drifted variants of seasonal influenza viruses, but preferably also to different influenza A virus subtypes that regularly infect birds and mammals, and may be the basis of future influenza pandemics. Thus, the development of a “universal” influenza vaccine that can provide broad coverage against different strains within a subtype or even across subtypes has become a key public health priority in both industrialised and low and middle income countries. In order to address the problem of antigenic drift and annual vaccine reformulation, the EDUFLUVAC Consortium, funded by the European Commission (EC) 7th Framework Programme (FP7), proposes to develop a combinatorial immunisation strategy to educate the immune system towards cross recognition and coverage against antigenic drift in seasonal influenza virus exposure.
To achieve this goal, EDUFLUVAC aims at developing a novel influenza vaccine candidate encompassing a combination of multiple influenza haemagglutinin (HA) or neuraminidase (NA) antigenic variants within a single (sub)type. This vaccine concept, using the proven, modern technology of baculovirus-derived virus-like particles (VLPs), is expected to elicit a broad neutralising immunity that will confer longer-lasting and broader protection against multiple strains of influenza virus. These new vaccine concepts will not only benefit human influenza vaccine production, but will also probably impact the production of animal influenza vaccines.
- Procedure for performing vaccine efficacy studies in ferrets.
- Procedures for cellular immunity testing after vaccination.
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