SLU Studies Universal Flu Vaccine
Saint Louis University is among four federally-funded vaccine research centers studying
an investigational universal influenza vaccine intended to protect against multiple
strains of the virus.
The trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
(NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. It tests an experimental vaccine
for safety and its ability to produce potentially broad protective immune responses,
both on its own and when followed by a standard, licensed seasonal influenza vaccine.
Saint Louis University’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU) is providing
laboratory support for this phase 2 clinical trial. Three other VTEUs -- Baylor College
of Medicine; the University of Iowa in Iowa City; and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
Medical Center – are recruiting up to 120 healthy volunteers for participation in
the trial. The trial will test the M-001 vaccine candidate, developed and produced
by BiondVax Pharmaceuticals.
Influenza viruses mutate constantly, resulting in the emergence of viruses that may
not always match those targeted by seasonal and pre-pandemic influenza vaccines. Seasonal
influenza vaccines are made anew each year to match the strains predicted to circulate
in the upcoming season. To receive the best protection against influenza, people must
be vaccinated annually.
However, if a particular influenza strain changes in an unanticipated way, or a different
strain from that included in the vaccine spreads widely, the seasonal influenza vaccine
may not be sufficiently protective. Each year, seasonal influenza sickens millions
in the United States and results in 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations and between
12,000 and 56,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Influenza pandemics occur when a novel influenza strain for which people have little
to no protection begins to spread among humans and presents a greater public health
threat than seasonal influenza. For example, the 1918 influenza pandemic killed at
least 50 million people worldwide. An ideal universal influenza vaccine would provide
durable protection for all age groups against multiple influenza strains, including
those that might cause a pandemic.
SLU is one of nine Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units selected in 2013 by NIAID
to study vaccines and treatments of the future that will protect people from infectious
diseases and emerging threats. The project is funded under Contract No. HHSN272201300021I.
The federal government has funded vaccine research at SLU since 1989. To learn more
about the vaccine research being conducted at Saint Louis University, visit vaccine.slu.edu.