Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative

Work

Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative

The Challenge

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic that infected one-third of the world’s population and killed between 50 million and 100 million people. Put in perspective, the pandemic killed more people in 12 months than HIV/AIDS has in the last 50 years.

Today, influenza still looms as one of our greatest global threats. Annually, seasonal influenza kills an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people worldwide. In the increasingly interconnected world, a new pandemic — and the associated potential for widespread social, economic, and political upheaval — is more and more likely.

While great progress has been made in understanding the influenza virus, little progress has occurred in understanding how the human immune system prevents and controls influenza. As a result, current vaccines are only moderately effective in blunting seasonal flu or protecting vulnerable populations such as the very young or old. Modern vaccines offer limited protection against rapidly emerging global pandemics.

Universal influenza vaccines capable of protecting all people against all strains of influenza offer the greatest hope for preventing a looming global catastrophe.

The Program

To address the critical gap in influenza vaccine progress, the Human Vaccines Project has launched the Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative (UIVI) in association with leading academic, corporate, nonprofit, and government partners.

Beginning in 2018, UIVI undertook the most comprehensive clinical analysis of immune responses to flu yet conducted to understand how to generate long-term immunity across influenza strains in globally diverse populations. The initiative brings together leading biomedical and bioinformatics researchers with the goal of accelerating the development of a universal influenza vaccine.

The Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative is directed by Dr. James Crowe Jr. and Dr. C. Buddy Creech from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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