Developing new and improved vaccines is a high priority for NIAID. The NIAID influenza vaccine research program supports activities on
- Innovative technologies to improve production flexibility
- New, more broadly protective vaccines
- Vaccines effective against newly emerging influenza viruses
- Adjuvant development, from early discovery to clinical evaluation
- Safety and efficacy in special populations
Clinical Studies: Critical Tools to Evaluate Vaccines and Treatments
The Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs), supported by the NIAID Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases since the 1960s, comprise a consortium of academic centers and organizations that provide a ready resource for conducting clinical trials to evaluate promising vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases.
The VTEUs conduct a broad range of studies including Phase I, Phase II, Phase III, and Phase IV clinical trials of bacterial, viral, and parasitic vaccines, therapeutics, and other biologics and drugs as preventive and therapeutic measures against infectious diseases in people of all ages and risk categories. The VTEUs can also undertake a variety of studies that support product development such as evaluations of novel investigational product delivery systems and reevaluation of current vaccine formulations and schedules of delivery.
In the United States, NIAID laboratories are developing novel vaccine candidates for seasonal influenza viruses and for avian strains with pandemic potential. In late 2006, the NIAID Vaccine Research Center initiated the first human trial of an investigational DNA vaccine against the H5N1 avian influenza virus, a strain that has infected and continues to threaten humans. In addition, researchers in the NIAID Laboratory of Infectious Diseases are working with MedImmune to generate candidate live-attenuated vaccines for a broad range of influenza subtypes with pandemic potential. To date, five of these vaccine candidates have advanced to Phase I clinical trials.
The Southeast Asia Influenza Clinical Research Network (SEA ICRN), co-supported by NIAID and the Wellcome Trust, brings together hospitals and institutions in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam to advance scientific knowledge and clinical management of human influenza caused by avian or human viruses. SEA ICRN studies aim to improve patient care and to help inform public health policy on influenza treatment. The network also works with national ministries of health and other authorities to facilitate the sharing of samples of influenza viruses for research purposes.
NIAID supports research on current and new vaccine technologies to facilitate the development of innovative influenza vaccine production platforms.
Universal Flu Vaccine
Scientists at NIAID are working to develop a universal influenza vaccine, so-called because it could confer decades-long protection from any flu virus strain. In recent experiments with mice, ferrets and monkeys, researchers at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center used a two-step immunization approach to elicit antibodies that attacked a variety of influenza virus strains. For more information, see the NIAID news release.