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Dynavax and Mount Sinai collaborate on universal influenza vaccine
NEW YORK and EMERYVILLE, Calif.—Dynavax Technologies Corporation and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai announced today that they have entered into a collaboration to develop a universal influenza vaccine.
Currently there are no approved universal flu vaccines, and the effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine ranges between 10% and 60%. A universal vaccine could eliminate the need to update and administer annual seasonal flu vaccines, and could protect against newly emerging flu strains — potentially including those capable of causing a flu pandemic.
Mount Sinai’s current work in this area is funded under a contract award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as part of the Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers (CIVICs) program established by NIAID. The Mount Sinai CIVICs team will evaluate a novel approach they have developed called chimeric hemagglutinin, which was designed to protect against all strains of influenza in combination with Dynavax’s CpG 1018TM adjuvant.
Dynavax developed their CpG 1018 adjuvant to provide an increased vaccine immune response. Preclinical and clinical study results demonstrated that the addition of CpG 1018 increases antibody concentrations, stimulates helper (CD4+) and cytotoxic (CD8+) T cell populations, and generates robust T and B cell memory responses. CpG 1018 also strongly favors development of the Th1 subset of helper T cells, the type of helper T cell that is essential for protection from infections with viruses and intracellular bacteria.
“We are excited to partner with Mount Sinai on this important vaccine development effort that has the potential to significantly reduce the morbidity and mortality caused by influenza viruses every year. Having seen the benefit of incorporating CpG 1018 in our first commercial vaccine, we believe it has significant potential to enhance the immune response in a universal flu vaccine,” added Ryan Spencer, chief executive officer of Dynavax. “This effort directly aligns with Dynavax’s goal to leverage the value of CpG 1018 across multiple diseases and vaccine approaches through collaborations with world class researchers like Mount Sinai.”
The development program will support an Investigational New Drug application for Phase 1 clinical trials. Peter Palese, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology at Mount Sinai; Adolfo-Garcia-Sastre, Ph.D., director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute, and the Irene and Dr. Arthur M. Fishberg Professor of Microbiology and Medicine (Infectious Diseases) at Mount Sinai; and Florian Krammer, Ph.D., professor of Microbiology at Mount Sinai, will be leading the development of the program.
“We are focused on designing novel vaccine candidates and delivery platforms with an emphasis on cross-protective vaccine strategies that could be used in healthy adults as well as populations at high risk for the most serious outcomes of influenza, such as children, older adults, and pregnant women. Including CpG 1018 in these vaccines gives us an important tool to potentially improve the immune response, especially in populations that need it most like the elderly,” pointed out Palese.
“Drs. Palese, Garcia-Sastre and Krammer are key global opinion leaders in virology. Their collective research programs have resulted in technologies that support the development of a universal flu vaccine,” noted Erik Lium, Ph.D., executive vice president and chief commercial innovation officer at Mount Sinai. “In collaboration with Dynavax, we look forward to advancing these technologies to create an effective vaccine that can reduce the 3-5 million severe cases of influenza each year.”