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Flu News Friday 4/2/21

Read the latest on influenza vaccines in this week’s roundup.

The Latest in Influenza Vaccines

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1. Universal flu vaccine pioneer EnGen Bio announces a registered equity crowdfunding campaign, in partnership with WeFunder
EnGen Bio, PR Newswire / March 31, 2021

EnGen Bio, an early stage biotechnology company, is developing a universal influenza A vaccine and has started a crowdfunding campaign. The company is working to optimize a durable, broadly protective, shelf-stable vaccine that targets an exposed M1 region on the virus. The vaccine would be intended for both veterinary and human markets.

2. Next-Generation Influenza HA Immunogens and Adjuvants in Pursuit of a Broadly Protective Vaccine
Nagashima et al., Viruses / March 24, 2021

This review discusses the progress made with universal influenza A vaccines focusing on various antigen approaches. Such approaches target conserved regions of the virus and types of adjuvants to optimize the elicitation of broadly neutralizing antibodies.

3. Cost-effectiveness of the cell-based quadrivalent versus the standard egg-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine in Germany
Cai et al., Journal of Medical Economics / March 24, 2021

Traditional seasonal flu vaccines utilize egg-based manufacturing methods that are over 70 years old. One limitation of egg-based vaccines is the ability for the flu virus to evolve and mutate during growth in the eggs, potentially leading to a vaccine with strains that do not match the selected (intended) vaccine strains. Researchers demonstrated a cell-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine was more cost-effective than an egg-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine.

4. Robust induction of resident memory T cells by combinatorial nanoshells confers cross-strain sterilizing immunity against lethal influenza viruses [Preproof]
Lin et al., Cell / March 23, 2021

Increasing evidence supports that lung-resident memory T cells (TRM) are one of the first lines of defense against the influenza virus, recognizing more evolutionarily conserved viral fragments and potentially contributing to protection against viral escape mutants. In this study, scientists designed a combinatorial nanoshell flu vaccine that elicited strong antigen-specific TRM responses and inducing “near-sterilizing” cross-protection against a variety of lethal influenza A viruses. The findings provide insights for both non-viral vector peptide vaccination strategies and for the development of universal influenza vaccines.

5. Quantifying the Persistence of Vaccine-related T cell Epitopes in Circulating Swine Influenza A Strains from 2013–2017 [Preprint]
Tan et al., Preprints.org / March 17, 2021

Traditionally, when evaluating cross-protection in influenza vaccines, experts turn to the humoral immune response, in other words, antibody and other B cell responses. However, approaches are increasingly taking into account cell-mediated (T cell) immune responses. This study examines whether a conserved T cell epitope-based swine vaccine maintains conservation over time. Compared to the decreased conservation observed in commercial swine vaccines, 24 of the 48 T cell epitopes in the epitope-based flu vaccine were highly conserved over the 2013 to 2017 time period.

6. Funding and Contract Opportunities

The Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants
The Human Vaccines Project / Closes June 18, 2021

Tender Specifications for the Support of three Phase IV Studies in Europe with QIV Vaccine Against Influenza [Contract Opportunity]
Helmholtz Center for Infection Research / Closes April 26, 2021

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Secondary Analysis of Existing Datasets for Advancing Immune-mediated and Infectious Disease Research
National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases /
Due June 16, 2021 / Expires May 8, 2024

Adjuvant Comparison and Characterization
National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases /
Due September 16, 2021