Flu News Friday: The Latest in Influenza Vaccines

December 4, 2020

Needle syringe with a vaccine bottle. Credit: NIH

Anne Gulland, The Telegraph / December 3, 2020

The mRNA vaccine technology is one of many technologies scientists are studying for a potential universal influenza vaccine. The recent approval of the Pfizer-BioNTec mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 in the UK is the first of its kind to have received a green light by regulators. As put by Dr. Nick Jackson, head of programs and innovations at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), “Now that these [mRNA] technologies have been validated that should, we predict, open the floodgates for them to be used for other diseases, particularly disease X.” According to experts, the next “disease X” could very well be influenza. Both interdisciplinary collaboration and building upon new technologies, such as the mRNA platform, will be essential for UIV development.

Maddie Bender, Vice / December 2, 2020

While not a panacea, what if all you needed was one shot to be protected for life? That’s the theory behind a universal vaccine for influenza. Scientists have been researching the foundations of it for over a decade, yet recent advances have given experts renewed hope that a universal vaccine is within grasp.

Bazhan et al., Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics / November 23, 2020

This study demonstrated a computer-aided approach to designing artificial polyepitope antigens capable of inducing T-cell-specific responses for influenza vaccines. The polyepitope strategy is one approach that is being explored to successfully create a broadly protective influenza vaccine, one that targets CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells to recognize the most conserved epitopes of the virus.

National Institutes of Health / November 24, 2020

Multiple Institutes at the National Institutes of Health are encouraging new applications to advance research activities relevant to synthetic biology. Specifically, for NIAID, synthetic biology represents a foundation to improve our ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious and immune-mediated diseases and to better understand complex host immune responses to such diseases. NIAID encourages collaboration between synthetic biologists and infectious disease scientists and/or immunologists for either basic or translational applications.

Vivaldi BioSciences, Outbreak News Today / November 23, 2020

As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to circulate in the future, the threat of a future pandemic influenza is also inevitable. Together, both could put strain on healthcare systems and economies. Vivaldi Biosciences announced it filed a provisional US patent application for its Delta-19 intranasal combination vaccine for protection against SARS-CoV-2 and all strains of influenza — potentially providing universal protection against all influenza A and B virus strains, including drifted seasonal influenza strains and emerging strains with pandemic potential. The Delta-19 vaccine builds upon their work on a universal influenza vaccine.

Belinda Smith, ABC News / November 22, 2020

The news on Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 is encouraging in the fight against COVID-19. But the potential benefits of mRNA vaccine platforms could extend beyond the COVID-19 pandemic — they have potential to protect us against other infectious disease threats like Influenza.

Center for Strategic & International Studies / November 20, 2020

CSIS interviews Dr. Mike Osterholm, a member of President-Elect Biden’s Covid-19 Advisory Task Force, a renowned leader in global health security, and director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). He discusses what he makes of the “most dangerous period since the [1918 Influenza Pandemic],” why America needs a leader who can communicate calmly and effectively to all Americans, what it means to invest in science, and why have the ability to have a “game changing” flu vaccine for the future, repositioning our vulnerability to Influenza.

Andrea Michelson, Business Insider / November 19, 2020

Research to develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 has taken place at a historically fast pace, with clinical trials kicking off just a few months after the first case was identified. Business Insider compiles timelines of vaccine development throughout history, from polio to swine flu, to demonstrate how the pace of research has evolved.

JAMA / November 2, 2020

JAMA interviews Tim Uyeki, MD, chief medical officer for the Influenza Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic may affect the 2020–2021 influenza season and the differences in the epidemiology and clinical spectrum for COVID-19 vs. Influenza.

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.