Flu News Friday: The Latest in Influenza Vaccines

June 11, 2021

Conference Announcement: The Eighth ESWI Influenza Conference is December 4th to 7th, 2021. Join colleagues and peers from around the world in Salzburg for the largest conference dedicated to influenza, RSV disease and Covid-19. Register here. Abstracts are due September 3, 2021; submit abstracts here.

Colorized transmission electron micrograph of SW31 (swine strain) influenza virus particles (blue) attached to and budding from the surface of a MDCK cell (orange). Credit: NIAID

Chris Galford, Homeland Preparedness News / June 8, 2021

Dr. Sang-Moo Kang, a professor from Georgia State University, has received a $2.7 million federal grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The five-year grant will be used to study immune responses to a universal influenza vaccine displaying multiple epitopes (HA, NA, and M2e), compared to seasonal vaccines, and whether the UIV candidate enhances the cross-protective efficacy in populations, young and old, with or without pre-existing immunity to influenza.

Outbreak News Today / June 7, 2021

The Taiwan Center for Disease Control has reported a human H1N2v influenza case. Variant influenza viruses usually spread in pigs. While they are antigenically and genetically distinct from the flu viruses infecting humans, swine-originating flu viruses can infect humans when humans are in close proximity to pigs. Pigs can be infected by avian, human, and swine influenza viruses. “When influenza viruses from different species infect pigs, the viruses can reassort (i.e. swap genes) and new viruses that are a mix of swine, human and/or avian influenza viruses can emerge.”

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / June 4, 2021

CDC reports the fifth human infection in the United States with a variant influenza virus. Occurring during the 2020–2021 influenza season, the five reported infections occurred in Wisconsin (one H3N2v and one H1N1v), North Carolina (one H1N1v), Ohio (one H1N2v), and Iowa (one H1N2v). Each patient fully recovered, and no person-to-person spread of variant influenza was identified associated with any of these patients.

Nelson et al., Journal of Virology / June 2, 2021

Scientists have developed an intranasal influenza vaccine targeting the highly conserved nucleoprotein (NP) to elicit broadly protective lung-localized CD4 T cell immune responses. The platform for the vaccine is a self-assembling nanolipoprotein particle linked to NP with an adjuvant. The lung-localized CD4 T cells induced by the vaccine demonstrated durability and when isolated and transferred to naïve recipients, 100% survival from lethal challenge to H1N1 influenza was observed.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services / June 1, 2021

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has launched a new, long-term, private-public partnership with the nonprofit organization, the Global Health Investment Corporation (GHIC). A Global Health Security fund will be created with matching capital from other investors. Using a venture capital model, GHIC plans to provide investment to companies to accelerate the development and commercialization of technologies, such as vaccines, for preventing and responding to pandemics and other health security threats.

George et al., Vaccines / June 1, 2021

This article reviews the helpful and harmful role of neutrophils in protection from influenza, and how the understanding of neutrophils can be leveraged in the development of universal influenza vaccines. Neutrophils are mobilized as part of the first line of innate immune responses to fight a pathogen like influenza and have a role in influencing our adaptive immune responses to the virus. While they possess a variety of protective functions to eliminate viruses, excessive recruitment of neutrophils has been associated with severe influenza morbidity.

Nguyen et al., Viruses / May 28, 2021

Animal models can allow the study of influenza mechanisms of transmission, viral pathogenesis, host-viral interactions, and vaccine and antiviral drug efficacy. The animal models reviewed in this article include ferrets, guinea pigs, swine, mice, felines, canines, and non-human primates.

Zeigler et al., PLOS One / May 27, 2021

Researchers have designed a nanoparticle-based influenza vaccine platform using solid-phase peptide synthesis. Epitopes from the hemagglutinin (HA) stem, the M2e ectodomain and the neuraminidase (NA) active site were targeted. Compared to vaccines displaying individual epitopes, findings suggest combining the stem and M2e epitopes increased survival of influenza B and influenza A H1N1 challenge from 50–70% to 90%.

Sekiya et al., Viruses / May 24, 2021

This article examines strategies for currently licensed influenza vaccines and for next-generation influenza vaccines in development, including the advantages of using adjuvants for influenza vaccines. The authors note the COVID-19 pandemic has “laid the groundwork” for mRNA vaccines, potentially in its use for influenza vaccines in the near future.

Nguyen et al., Nature Communications / May 11, 2021

Longitudinal samples from hospitalized influenza patients reveal how the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system work together to drive recovery. The study also examines genetic-host factors as well as immune responses based on prior exposure to influenza strains. The authors conclude that “tracking antibody, B and T cell responses (and other immune mediators) may be predictive of patients’ severity or recovery from influenza virus infections that require hospitalization.”

U.S. Agency for International Development / Due Jun 17, 2021

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / Due June 21, 2021

The American Association of Immunologists / Due September 1, 2021

Emily Graul, Sabin Vaccine Institute

Visit Influenzer.org to learn more about our journey to accelerate the development of a universal influenza vaccine. @TheInfluenzers

Engaging and informing expertise from across research disciplines and industry sectors to drive innovation towards universal influenza vaccine development.