Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Page Family Launch a Grand Challenge for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development
On April 27th, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Page Family Foundation announced the availability of funding for a Grand Challenge to identify novel concepts that will lead to development of universal influenza vaccines offering protection from morbidity and mortality caused by all sub-types of circulating and emerging influenza A sub-type viruses and influenza B lineage viruses for at least 3-5 years.
The challenge grants are intended to engage scientists across a variety of disciplines, demonstrate innovative thinking by incorporating novel concepts or technologies not currently being used in the influenza vaccine field. The Grand Challenge closed on June 22, 2018. To read more visit: https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/challenge/ending-pandemic-threat-grand-challenge-universal-influenza-vaccine-development
BMGF Convening on the Influenza Human Challenge Model Meeting Update
On May 31-June 1, a meeting was convened in London to discuss improvements and expanded use of human challenge studies for universal influenza vaccine development. The meeting, “BMGF Convening on the Influenza Human Challenge Model for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development” included over 60 scientists and involved robust discussion of the value and uses of human challenge models, regulatory issues and industry perspectives on their use, key issues concerning methods and subject enrollment, criteria for expanding challenge viruses, ideas for expansion of sites, and other topics. A report of the meeting is being prepared and will be shared with the Consortium and submitted for peer-review for publication. The ultimate product is a road-map for ensuring that challenge models can be optimally used to accelerate universal influenza vaccine development.
- NIAID is soliciting proposals for the Research Area 003 – Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers. The objective of Research Area 003 is to support improvements in the immunogenicity and durability of seasonal influenza vaccines, and the development of innovative influenza vaccine approaches that provide robust, durable, broadly protective mucosal and systemic anti-influenza immunity (“universal influenza vaccines”) https://www.fbo.gov/spg/HHS/NIH/NIAID/HHS-NIH-NIAID-BAA2018/listing.html
- NIAID will host a workshop on the “Optimization of Animal Models to Better Predict Influenza Vaccine Efficacy” on August 7-8th, 2018. No single animal model completely recapitulates human disease. Currently, mice and ferrets are extensively used in basic research and translational studies, with recent advances enabling researchers to interrogate many aspects of influenza virus pathogenicity, transmission, and host immunity. However, there are still gaps and limitations in these models, including a lack of immunological tools for species other than mice, differences in host immune responses across species, inability to recapitulate in animals the effects of the complexities of preexisting immunity in humans, and a lack of standardized assays across different laboratories.
- The June 2018 DMID Council approve a concept titled, “Advancing Research Needed to Develop a Universal Influenza Vaccine.” To support research activities that will advance the areas of interest outlined in A Universal Influenza Vaccine: The Strategic Plan for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (link is external), including efforts to 1) improve understanding of transmission, natural history, and pathogenesis of influenza virus infection, 2) characterize influenza immunity and correlates of immune protection, and 3) support rational design of universal influenza vaccines.
Sabin Institute to Tackle Pandemic Flu
Sabin Institute received a 3-year $6.6 million grant to help speed the development of next generation influenza vaccines and support related immunization issues. This grant is funded by the Page Family Donor Advisor Fund. This grant will support a comprehensive advocacy approach to influenza that will compliment and enhance current influenza research. Sabin will establish an influenza leadership council to identify new approaches to next generation vaccines and engage the public. To read more visit: https://www.sabin.org/updates/pressreleases/sabin-tackle-pandemic-flu
Human Vaccine Project Updates
- The Human Vaccine Project launched a webinar based seminar series in May 2018, focused on the scientific challenges impeding development of universal influenza vaccines, for all interested scientists and stakeholders. To read more information on the research webinars visit the following website: http://www.humanvaccinesproject.org/talks/
- The Project is planning an annual scientific meeting on universal influenza vaccine development; to be held in Nashville on Nov 15-16, 2018. The Project would welcome other Global Funders Consortium members to consider co-sponsoring this annual meeting.
- The Human Vaccine Project started a Partnership with Seqirus on Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative. See more information below: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/hvp-hvp062718.php
- Michelson Medical Research Foundation and the Human Vaccines Project awarded three Michelson Prizes for young investigators (<35yrs) in human immunology and vaccine research. Visit the link for more information: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/michelson-prize-awards-450-000-to-young-scientists-advancing-immunology-and-vaccine-research-300668376.html
Innovation Working Group
Bruce Gellin (Sabin Institute) and Casey Wright (The Page Family Foundation), are leading a new innovation working group for the Global Funders Consortium for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development. The goals of the working group are to:
- Provide a mechanism for information sharing
- Identify critical gaps – and potential opportunities to fill those gaps
- Facilitate collaboration
- Use the voice of the Consortium to raise awareness and encouraging additional funders to enter the field
- NIAID will host a workshop on the “Optimization of Animal Models to Better Predict Influenza Vaccine Efficacy” on August 7-8th, 2018.
- Human Vaccine Project, Annual Scientific Meeting on Universal Influenza Development, November 15-16, in Nashville, Tennessee