Influenza is one of the major person-to-person transmittable respiratory viral infections in humans and a serious and expensive threat to human. The current strategy to prevent influenza-associated health risks is annual vaccination of risk populations. Yet, current vaccines need to be adjusted each year and even then it is not guaranteed that they will match the circulating virus. Moreover, current vaccines are not effective against newly emerging influenza virus strains as demonstrated during the Mexican Flu in 2009. Universal influenza vaccines, effective against a broad spectrum of influenza virus strains, are thus urgently needed. Such vaccines need to be based on conserved constituents of the virus and should raise humoral as well as cellular immunity that effectively protects against influenza disease.
The UNISEC objective is to bring together a number of vaccine concepts into a single study in order to identify, develop and clinically test the most promising leads for a universal influenza vaccine, which must (1) demonstrate adequate (universal) protection, and (2) be technically suitable for development to a marketable product.
To achieve these overall aims, UNISEC has defined six sub-objectives:
UNISEC is a European consortium consisting of 3 academic partners, 5 National Health Institutes and 3 SMEs, all with leading expertise in influenza vaccine research and development. In addition, UNISEC has access to a network of clinical trial centers.
The expertise present in the consortium spans the entire range from vaccine design via vaccine formulation to vaccine production, pre-clinical and clinical testing and regulatory issues.
The consortium started its activities in October 2013 with a kick-off meeting held in Groningen, NL. Contacts have been further intensified during frequent telephone conferences engaging the entire consortium or single work packages. These meetings have turned out to be highly instrumental in exchanging information, decision making, and fine-tuning of activities. Next to established scientists also young PhD students and post-docs participate in these meetings enabling them to be part of and learn from the scientific discussions and to broaden their networks. A second face-to-face meeting was held in March 2015 in Copenhagen. During this meeting PhD students and post-docs presented the results of their experiments and PIs elaborated on future plans.
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10/16/2015 1:36:32 PM