Currently licensed influenza vaccines promote an effective antibody response, but only against influenza virus strains that antigenically match the vaccine composition. Little protection is induced by these vaccines against antigenically drifted strains such as those emerging from an avian or swine reservoir. Hence there is a great need to develop broadly cross-reactive flu-vaccines.
The aim is to establish a European training platform to integrate young researchers in a highly innovative interdisciplinary strategy to develop mucosal flu-vaccines. The Universal Influenza Vaccine (UNIVACFLU) network is aimed at harnessing the expertise of the most accomplished vaccine researchers, developers and regulators in Europe in a timely and multidisciplinary training approach unparalleled in any single EU country. The training program is extensive and builds on the integrated added values of complementing expertise and the full access to state-of-the- art technologies and excellent training environments. This unique consortium has 2 SMEs as fully committed members to guarantee strong intersectoral cooperation between industry and academia.
The partners represent 6 leading universities in 6 different member countries, securing excellent presence in Europe. The structure of UNIFLUVAC is specifically adapted to operate over the whole range of specialized expertise needed. Specifically, UNIFLUVAC provides vaccine antigen identification and expression, adjuvant design and formulation, testing in state-of-the-art preclinical animal models and finally clinical safety, immunogenicity and efficacy trials in excellent and for Europe unique medical centres. This is the strength and appeal of the UNIFLUVAC proposal. It will also establish a long-term European network based on a new cohort of young professionals with excellent employability and career opportunities in academic, clinical or industrial settings. UNIFLUVAC will have a major impact on human health in Europe and globally.