The project includes resources from the RBL Virology Unit. Influenza is one of the most common infections worldwide and causes an increase in healthcare costs, hospital admissions, and deaths. Because of the ability of influenza viruses to mutate each year and because influenza vaccination and infection induces predominantly strain-specific hemagglutinin (HA) neutralizing antibodies, vaccines have to change yearly based on circulating influenza strains. Furthermore, because some influenza strains that live in birds (avian influenza) can infect humans and cause severe and even lethal disease, the risk of a global lethal pandemic flu remains high. Thus, a goal of the DHVI Influenza program is to find better ways to make safe and effective vaccines against influenza, including broadly reactive or “universal” vaccines for all influenza strains that could also counteract pandemic influenza.
As of 2019, The Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI) was selected to join the Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers (CIVICs) in all three components of the research program, which is funded by the National Institute of Allergic and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) through the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID). The CIVICs program aims to improve the durability of seasonal influenza vaccines and develop a universal influenza vaccine through iterative vaccine design, pre-clinical animal studies, and early phase clinical trials.
The Duke CIVICS program consists of multidisciplinary teams of investigators (Drs. Tony Moody, Gregory Sempowski, Matt Johnson, Georgia Tomaras, and Chip Walter) and their collaborators to support the research objectives laid out by the NIAID to design, manufacture, and test novel influenza vaccine candidates with the following attributes:
- Be at least 75% effective against symptomatic influenza virus infection
- Protect against group I and group II influenza A viruses
- Provide durable protection that lasts at least one year and preferably through multiple influenza seasons
- Be suitable for all age groups