The FLUTCORE Project

FLUTCORE will develop a novel universal influenza A virus (IAV) vaccine based on the tandem core vaccine platform. Recent influenza pandemics have emphasized the urgent need for better vaccines that are reactive with multiple IAV subtypes and that are no longer dependent on intimate knowledge of the prevalent virus. We propose to replace the existing seasonal IAV vaccine with a virus like particle (VLP) carrying several invariant “universal” influenza antigens. Previous attempts to use these targets have failed due to the poor antigen expression and immunogenicity. The highly immunogenic tandem core system overcomes this limitation. Specifically, we propose to develop a VLP carrying two or more invariant influenza antigens, express these in yeast and then examine immunogenicity in mice. The vaccine will be further tested in the rigorous ferret system before being scaled up for manufacture. An optimal clone will then be transferred to an accredited contract manufacturer for production. A phase I clinical trial will be carried out once pre-clinical toxicology has been successfully completed. Our consortium will examine the immune responses in both animals and humans thoroughly to ensure that the vaccine candidate chosen can produce a protective IAV immune response in all individuals.

To achieve these objectives, our proposal builds upon the complementary expertise of seven high-performing partners representing four European countries, with world leadership in HBV core biology, immunological analysis, commercial manufacture and influenza clinical trials, making our consortium ideally positioned to develop the vaccine and to take it from bench to bedside. The leading role of SMEs in the consortium will ensure that the technology developed by FLUTCORE will generate highly marketable products, offering both improved patient protection and long-term cost savings for health care in Europe once annual influenza vaccines are replaced.