Pathobiology | Research News

Grant Explores Approach for a ‘Universal’ Flu Vaccine

Dr. Zuckermann Receives Proof-of-Concept Grant

Dr. Federico Zuckermann, pathobiology, and Dr. Stephen Sligar, School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, were selected as awardees of the Illinois Proof-of-Concept program for their project entitled “A broadly protective vaccine against influenza virus.”

“The failure of currently available vaccines to protect against drifted seasonal influenza A viruses or from antigenically novel pandemic influenza viruses has driven the field towards the concept of a ‘universal influenza vaccine’ that can overcome the phenomena of antigenic changes,” explained Dr. Zuckermann.

“The focus of our project is to examine the benefit of using the influenza viral envelope protein matrix 2 (M2), displayed in its native trans-membrane configuration in nanoscale structures called nanodiscs, as a supplement to the antigenic makeup of inactivated influenza A virus vaccines. This approach may expand the breadth of protective immunity vaccines afford.”

The Illinois Proof-of-Concept program funds projects that facilitate the transformation of research innovations into useful products and services that benefit society. The program was launched in 2014 but had not been funded since 2016.