Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Alx bio, used under Creative Commons license.
Researchers in Baltimore will be putting years of vaccine expertise toward strengthening flu shots.
The University of Maryland School of Medicine was awarded a contract worth up to $200 million from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases to improve influenza vaccines.
It’s routine to get a flu shot, but the virus is complex and remains far-reaching. About 43 million Americans were impacted in 2018-2019.The goal of the research is to develop a universal influenza vaccine that protects against new strains of the disease and is longer-lasting.
Research is being conducted under a program called Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Center (CIVICs). Drawing on a team that brings expertise in pre-clinical studies, clinical trials and human challenge studies. A new “clinical core” will be established at the school to evaluate improved flu vaccines, and work toward a universal vaccine.
“While current influenza vaccines have been critical in reducing disease, the virus is constantly changing,” said Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, who is leading the research and is director of the school’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD), in a statement. “The CIVICs program will address the need to develop and test influenza vaccines that protect against new and emerging strains, and ultimately prevent more disease.”
Thanks @NIH @NIAIDNews for this HUGE endorsement of our work. Thousands of ppl die each yr from flu & this grant WILL save lives. Congrats @UMmedschool Dean Al Reece and @UMCVD Dir. & grant PI Dr. Kathy Neuzil. Thanks also @ChrisVanHollen for supporting our scientific leadership. pic.twitter.com/xbSgEiwOhL
— Jay A. Perman, MD (@JayPerman) September 20, 2019
The funding marks one of the largest-ever research contracts awarded to the Baltimore-based University of Maryland School of Medicine, with funding coming over seven years.
For its part, CVD has 40 years of vaccine development expertise. In recent years, researchers there played a key role as trial of a vaccine for ebola were accelerated amid an outbreak in Africa.
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