An influenza virus can cause serious illness or death in individuals – and it can easily spread through the population. Fear of a global influenza pandemic makes the need for new, safe, and efficacious influenza vaccines a high priority. In tests, BlueWillow’s nanoemulsion (NE) platform has shown promise as a mucosal adjuvant for influenza vaccines
An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges and there is little or no immunity for it in humans. The virus begins to cause serious illness – then spreads easily from person to person worldwide. A global pandemic would cause high levels of disease, death, social disruption, and economic loss.
Efforts to prepare for an influenza pandemic include (i) ongoing surveillance of human and animal influenza viruses, (ii) risk assessments of viruses with pandemic potential, (iii) development and improvement of preparedness tools that can aid public health practitioners in the event of an influenza pandemic, and (iv) government stockpiling of novel vaccine adjuvants that have been shown to work with selected pandemic influenza antigens. A pandemic outbreak would spur a huge demand for safe and efficacious influenza vaccines. The development of novel, safe, and efficacious influenza vaccines and broad spectrum vaccine adjuvants is therefore of high priority.
Research in H5 pandemic influenza was conducted at the University of Michigan and Fraunhofer USA using a nanoemulsion (NE) adjuvanted rH5 vaccine administered in mice via three routes – intranasal, subcutaneous, and intramuscular. Each route of vaccination elicited high IgG and HAI titers versus control.
Further studies in mice have demonstrated robust HAI, Th1 & Th17 responses following intranasal NE vaccination. Based on these results, BlueWillow recently advanced its intranasal NE vaccine candidate to challenge studies in the primary ferret model. The studies have been completed and demonstrated that intranasal NE vaccination completely protects animals from illness (weight loss), shedding and death following a lethal challenge of H5 influenza.
In 2013, BlueWillow Biologics was awarded a contract worth up to $10.5 million from NIAID to develop a NE adjuvant for use with a pandemic influenza vaccine. The funding from NIAID will specifically support the research and development of NanoVax®-Panflu, which combines BlueWillow’s proprietary NE adjuvant with a plant-based recombinant H5 pandemic influenza antigen. This research will study both intranasal and intramuscular administration of the NE vaccine.