Australian researchers attempt to develop single pneumonia and flu vaccine

Researchers at the University of Adelaide in South Australia will collaborate with the pharmaceutical industry to develop a single vaccine for both pneumonia and influenza.

The project represents one of 11 new research projects at the university to receive funding from the federal government through grants worth $3.6 million in total. James Paton, a professor with the School of Molecular and Biomedical Science, will team with Gamma Vaccines Pty. Ltd. to develop the vaccine under a $276,000 grant.

"Right across the world, the influenza virus and the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) individually cause serious illness and death from acute respiratory infections," Paton said. "However, these two pathogens can also combine and synergize with each other to create a deadly super-infection. For example, more than half of the 50 million deaths that occurred during the 1918-19 flu pandemic were directly attributable to pneumococcal super-infection."

Paton and his team plan to develop a vaccine that can broadly protect against both of the pathogens with long-lasting results.

The funding came from the Australian Research Council's Linkage Projects scheme.

"This project is an excellent example of the University of Adelaide working with industry to achieve great benefits for the community," Mike Brooks, the university's deputy vice-chancellor of research, said. "Much of our research effort is directed at critical global challenges facing our society. These include improved human health, food security, a sustainable environment, and renewable energy, among others. This is outstanding work that is being conducted right here at our university, which has the potential to produce tangible benefits for millions of people the world over."