Flu News Friday 7/16/21
Read the latest on influenza vaccines in this week’s roundup.
Image credit: “Parent holding a nasal spray near his daugher’s face.” by shixart1985 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Latest in Influenza Vaccines
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.
1. CCR2 Regulates Vaccine-Induced Mucosal T-Cell Memory to Influenza A Virus
Lee et al., Journal of Virology / July 12, 2021
Scientists previously developed an intranasal, adjuvant-based Influenza A nucleoprotein vaccine that demonstrated strong CD4 and CD8 T cell memory in lungs and protected against H1N1 and H5N1 strains of IAV. This study explores the cellular interactions between C-C chemokine receptor type 2 (CCR2) and monocytes and the vaccine’s effect on generating and maintaining T cell memory in the respiratory tract. The findings have implications for the development of broadly protective influenza vaccines focused on the induction of frontline T-cell immunity.
2. Flu vaccine linked to better COVID-19 symptoms
Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy / July 12, 2021
After monitoring 74,000 SARS-CoV-2 patients, researchers found that individuals who had received an influenza vaccine 2–6 months prior to COVID-19 infection were at a lower risk of sepsis, stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), ICU admission, and emergency department visits after a SARS-CoV-2-positive diagnosis. The authors suggest the protective effect of influenza vaccines for reducing COVID-19 morbidity and mortality, emphasizing the benefit for populations who may limited access to COVID-19 vaccines. To account for these findings, many theories posit the flu vaccine leads to an overall boost in strength of the innate immune system.The findings were presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID).
Note: a flu vaccine should not serve as a replacement for a COVID-19 vaccine.
3. Moderna Begins Human Study Of mRNA-Based Flu Shot After Covid Success
Jemima McEvoy, Forbes / July 7, 2021
Moderna announced the start of phase 1/2 trial in humans to evaluate the safety, immunogenicity, and reactogenicity of their new quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccine candidate utilizing the mRNA platform. The vaccine is designed to have greater efficacy and production speed than current seasonal influenza vaccines, particularly egg-based vaccines which can involve unintended, adaptive mutations, making them vulnerable to strain mismatch between circulating and selected vaccine strains. Moderna has a goal to develop a combination respiratory vaccine that would provide protection against influenza, SARS-CoV-2, and human metapneumovirus (hMPV).
4. In Silico Prediction and Evaluation of E. coli Expressed Recombinant HA Protein of Avian Influenza Virus
Shakoor et al., Pakistan Journal of Zoology / July 6, 2021
Scientists are working to predict immunogenic hemagglutinin (HA) epitopes using bioinformatics tools. In this study, the HA protein of the Influenza A H9N2 strain was expressed in E. coli vector to produce a recombinant influenza vaccine candidate. The vaccine demonstrated HA antibody specificity through antigen-antibody reaction immunogenicity in a mouse model. The authors emphasize that a bacterial expression vaccine system could be an advantageous alternative to egg-based vaccines for its production efficiency.
5. Universal influenza vaccine based on conserved antigens provides long-term durability of immune responses and durable broad protection against diverse challenge virus strains in mice
Lo et al., July 3, 2021
An intranasal universal vaccine candidate demonstrates broad, long-lasting immune protection. The single dose vaccine is comprised of recombinant, replication-deficient adenoviruses expressing nucleoproteins (NP) from Influenza A and B and the matrix protein 2 (M2) ectodomain. Compared to intramuscular injection, intranasal immunization is a non-invasive route that induces not only systemic immunity but also mucosal immunity, and does not require trained health workers to administer, making the UIV candidate potentially more accessible.
6. Projected impact of a plant-derived vaccine on the burden of seasonal influenza in Canada
Ramjee et al., Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics / July 2, 2021
This analysis estimates the population outcomes resulting from the introduction of a quadrivalent, plant-based seasonal influenza vaccine utilizing virus-like particles, compared to a traditional egg-based seasonal influenza vaccine in Canda. Compared to egg-based vaccines, the quadrivalent, plant-derived vaccine was associated with fewer influenza cases and reduced numbers of hospital admissions for both 18 to 64 and 65+ age groups. While the study has an in-country focus, it adds to the growing evidence supporting the development of novel alternatives to egg-based flu vaccine technology.
7. A Global Deal for our Pandemic Age
G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response / June 2021
The G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response proposes a Global Deal for pandemics, calling for strengthening global governance, increasing sustained investment of global public goods (including vaccines and surveillance), and building up resilient health systems in countries regardless of income level. While the report calls for a new global governance and financing mechanism, the proposed mechanisms should complement existing institutions and their partnerships. While the investments would be significant, they dwarf in comparison to the economic and societal costs of a pandemic. The G20 will be considering the Panel’s recommendations prior to the Joint Finance and Health Ministers meeting in October.
8. Binding affinity landscapes constrain the evolution of broadly neutralizing anti-influenza antibodies [Pre-print]
Phillips et al., bioRxiv / May 25, 2021
Researchers examine the effect of mutations and their genetic interactions giving rise to two naturally isolated broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs), antibodies with binding affinity to a diverse set of influenza virus antigens. Understanding these selection pathways is important for the prediction, design, and elicitation of bnAbs for influenza vaccines and treatments.
9. Funding Opportunities & Information
Polyvalent Influenza Virus-Like Particles (VLPs) and Use as Vaccines [Licensing Opportunity]
National Institutes of Health / Published June 23, 2021
The AAI Fellowship Program for Career Reentry
The American Association of Immunologists / Due September 1, 2021
Investigator Initiated Research in Computational Genomics and Data Science (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) [Grant]
National Institutes of Health / Due September 7, 2021
Vaccines and diagnostics for priority animal diseases [Grant]
Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON) / Opened June 22, 2021 / Due October 6, 2021
Next generation advanced therapies to treat highly prevalent and high burden diseases with unmet medical needs [Grant]
Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON) / Opened June 22, 2021 / Due September 21, 2021
Emergency Awards: Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern (U19 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) [Cooperative Agreement]
National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases / Opened September 22, 2021 / Due October 22, 2021