EDUFLUVAC project receives $6.1 million from European Commission

The EDUFLUVAC project, a public-private partnership with the goal of developing a universal flu vaccine, announced on Friday that it received a $6.1 million grant from the European Commission.

The EDUFLUVAC consortium consists of seven renowned organizations from Europe on a four-year mission to develop a broad-spectrum, long-lasting vaccine against influenza. The project is attempting to develop a combinatorial immunization strategy that will teach the immune system to cross-recognize common regions within multiple viral strains of influenza.

"Developing a universal flu vaccine has become a global health priority for preventing the spread of the virus and the emergence of new strains, and we are convinced that EDUFLUVAC will be a major step forward towards achieving this goal," Othmar Engelhardt, a principal investigator at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control in the U.K., said.

According to EDUFLUVAC, seasonal influenza causes approximately three to five million severe cases and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths annually. While vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the disease or severe illness, current vaccines only provide limited protection against the ever-changing flu virus.

The development of a universal flu vaccine could eliminate the need for a seasonal vaccine every year and annual vaccination campaigns.

"Low and middle-income countries currently have minimal influenza vaccination programs," Odile Leroy, the executive director of the European Vaccine Initiative and coordinator of EDUFLUVAC, said. "Thus, the development of a vaccine that elicits broad long-lasting defense would facilitate vaccination campaigns and confer protection against influenza in hitherto untargeted groups with limited health care."