Flu News Friday 5/21/21
Read the latest on influenza vaccines in this week’s roundup.
Image credit: Marco Verch
The Latest in Influenza Vaccines
Find a COVID-19 vaccine near you using VaccineFinder.org. VaccineFinder is a free, online service where users can search for locations that offer vaccinations.
1. How the Covid pandemic ends: Scientists look to the past to see the future
Helen Branswell, STAT / May 19, 2021
STAT explores the future of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, drawing upon history of influenza viruses and the shift of previous pandemics to seasonal, endemic occurrences. Experts weigh in on what an endemic SARS-CoV-2 would mean and when this shift might occur.
2. CD8+ T cell landscape in Indigenous and non-Indigenous people restricted by influenza mortality-associated HLA-A*24:02 allomorph
Hensen et al., Nature Communications / May 18, 2021
The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) repertoire varies among different ethnic groups. Scientists identified an HLA allele with greater frequency in indigenous populations across the globe, HLA-A24. This allele has been associated with greater influenza mortality, particularly during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. The study defined the breadth of CD8+ T-cell epitopes presented by this HLA during influenza A and B infections to understand why HLA-A24 has a role in disease susceptibility and severity. The data show cross-reactive T-cell responses for both influenza A and B. The findings provide insights for the development of a T-cell universal influenza vaccine focused on protecting higher-risk populations.
3. Development and Characterization of a Highly Sensitive NanoLuciferase-Based Immunoprecipitation System for the Detection of Anti-Influenza Virus HA Antibodies
Honda et al., mSphere / May 12, 2021
Measuring correlates of protection for influenza vaccines often uses the gold-standard hemagglutination-inhibition (HI) assay, and increasingly the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and the neutralization (NT) assay. These approaches can have drawbacks, and so scientists developed a new method, NanoLIPS, to detect influenza-specific immune responses using a NanoLuciferase-tagged recombinant HA protein. Data from the NanoLuciferase-based luciferase immunoprecipitation system assay (NanoLIPS) was demonstrated to correlate with the protection of an experimental vaccine in animal models.
4. In silico design of a multi-epitope peptide construct as a potential vaccine candidate for Influenza A based on neuraminidase protein
Behbahani et al., In silico Pharmacology / May 11, 2021
Currently, influenza vaccines primarily target the hemagglutinin (HA) surface protein. Yet, increasingly scientists are studying the potential for neuraminidase (NA), the other major surface protein, as a vaccine target. Using bioinformatics approaches, scientists designed a multi-epitope influenza vaccine based exclusively on the Influenza virus A neuraminidase (NA) protein. Specific B cell and T-cell epitopes from seven NA subtypes were selected for the vaccine based on their antigenicity and stability.
5. How close are we to preventing the next flu pandemic?
EnGen Bio / May 11, 2021
Current vaccine approaches to controlling seasonal and pandemic influenza “is akin to a game of Whack-a-Mole…knocking out all strains of the targeted virus with one swift strike — a universal vaccine — is the necessary approach.” EnGen Bio discusses their epitope-based universal influenza vaccine approach and how it compares to vaccine approaches from other companies and institutions.
6. Skin Vaccination with Dissolvable Microneedle Patches Incorporating Influenza Neuraminidase and Flagellin Protein Nanoparticles Induces Broad Immune Protection against Multiple Influenza Viruses
Wang et al., ACS Applied Bio Materials / May 11, 2021
Scientists developed a microneedle patch as a new strategy for universal influenza vaccine administration . The vaccine uses nanoparticles with an outer coating of cross-linked neuraminidase (NA) and flagellin (FliC) encapsulating a matrix protein 2 (M2e) core. NA and M2e are conserved domains of the influenza virus, while FliC was used to give the vaccine self-adjuvant capacity. The vaccine elicited broad cross-protective immunity involving both humoral and cellular arms of the immune system in a mouse model.
7. The evolution and future of influenza pandemic preparednessHarrington et al., Experimental & Molecular Medicine / May 6, 2021
St. Jude researchers review the history and current state of influenza pandemic preparedness, including risk assessment tools, vaccination strategies and the basic research on influenza pathogenesis, evolution, and host interactions underpinning pandemic preparedness. The authors also examine how the influenza pandemic preparedness networks intersect with the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
8. COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic
The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response / May 2021
The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response released a new report presenting their findings and recommendations to curb the COVID-19 Pandemic and to ensure any future infectious disease outbreaks do not become another catastrophic pandemic. Among their findings, the Panel found that open data and open science collaboration were central to pandemic response. Among their conclusions, the current Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) should be transformed into a “truly global end-to-end platform to deliver global public goods” such as vaccines, while mRNA vaccine manufacturing capacity should be built in Low- and Middle-Income Countries to improve equitable access and distribution.
9. Differences and disparities in seasonal influenza vaccine, acceptance, adverse reactions, and coverage by age, sex, gender, and race
Kini et al., Vaccine / April 28, 2021
Researchers from Johns Hopkins university sought to identify how sociodemographic characteristics such as age, sex, gender, and race may intersect and influence seasonal flu vaccine acceptance, coverage, and adverse reactions. The authors reviewed over 3,000 previous studies from around the world from 2010 to 2020. Notable findings include that traditionally marginalized populations have lower influenza vaccine acceptance and coverage across studies and vaccine coverage rates were found to increase with age in every study. There is a paucity of literature on flu vaccine acceptance and uptake among pregnant Black women, a population group with persistently higher rates of morbidity, mortality, and hospitalizations from the virus.
10. Funding Opportunities
The Wellcome Trust / Full application deadline May 24, 2021
Assays for SARS-CoV-2 cellular immune responses
Small Business Research Initiative competition, UK Research and Innovation / Opened April 26, 2021 / Closes May 26, 2021
Pre-announcement: multimodal research across scales to understand human disease
Medical Research Council, UK Research & Innovation / Opening and closing dates to be confirmed