Collaboration to develop a universal influenza vaccine

Tuesday, 09 June, 2020

Collaboration to develop a universal influenza vaccine

Netherlands-based vaccinology institute Intravacc and US biotech company Versatope have signed a research service agreement to further develop a universal vaccine against influenza. Both parties will collaborate to further advance the candidate vaccine through clinical development.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza vaccines were overall 29% effective during the 2018–2019 influenza season due to the emergence of new, late-season viral strains, resulting in 42.9 million illnesses, more than 16.5 million medical visits, 647,000 hospitalisations and 61,200 deaths throughout the country. Therefore, there is a high medical and cost saving need for finding a more universal influenza vaccine.

Intravacc has designed a vaccine delivery platform based on outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) — spherical vesicles that are naturally secreted by gram-negative bacteria and contain proteins that play a role in the survival of bacteria in the body. Their strong immunogenic properties make them suitable for use in vaccines, and they can be rigged with immunogenic proteins and peptides from other pathogens.

Under the new agreement, Intravacc will provide its vaccine technology to Versatope in the hope of bringing the latter’s universal influenza vaccine candidate, VT-105, towards clinical trials. Versatope’s approach combines diverse genetic variants of influenza strains on a single nano-sized OMV that may provide better cross-strain protection than influenza vaccines comprising individual strains, thus hopefully resulting in the world’s first universal flu vaccine.

“The alliance between Versatope and Intravacc will advance the VT-105 universal influenza vaccine candidate to the clinic in a rigorous and regulatory-compliant manner and help mitigate the risks associated with the chemistry, manufacturing and control process,” said Versatope CEO Dr Christopher Locher.

“We are very happy to partner with Versatope and to be able to further expand the global reach of our OMV technology,” added Intravacc CEO Dr Jan Groen. “This partnership is dedicated to finding a much-needed universal flu vaccine.”

Image credit: © CHETRONI

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