MADISON, Wis.— Deadly flu viruses, including the H5N1 bird flu and H3N2 swine flu, may have met their match in FluGen’s universal vaccine, REDEE FLU™. At the World Health Organization influenza vaccine meeting in Hong Kong in 2013, FluGen scientists presented compelling data demonstrating that the REDEE FLU™ vaccine protects against both influenza strains that it was designed to immunize against and those it was not, called matched and unmatched viruses, respectively. Vaccine mismatches are a frequent and recurring public health problem that can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of influenza vaccination programs and significantly impact public health. The FluGen data suggest that REDEE FLU™ could be the universal vaccine that dramatically improves the effectiveness of global vaccination initiatives and the world’s population health.
Current influenza vaccines leave much to be desired, with efficacy rates in the United States reported at 59 percent in healthy individuals, but often lower in those over 65 and in children under two.
“At FluGen, our one and only focus is vaccine efficacy,” said Paul Radspinner, FluGen’s president and CEO. “If REDEE FLU™ continues to show the universal coverage it has demonstrated to date, it may be possible to take one dose every three to five years to protect against a wide variety of influenza strains and subtypes. Until REDEE FLU™’s broader protection is available individuals should continue to receive current vaccines.”
Chief Scientific Officer Pamuk Bilsel, Ph.D., presented FluGen’s preliminary data at the WHO influenza meeting, which was held Jan. 24-26 in Hong Kong. The meeting gathered global leaders in the field to review the current status of research in the area of new influenza vaccines, focusing on strategies like FluGen’s that induce broadly protective and long-lasting immune responses.
“REDEE FLU™ is a novel approach in preventing replication of the influenza virus in humans,” Dr. Bilsel said. “Our technology introduces a live virus that cannot replicate, but triggers a robust immune response that ensures broad protection. And our vaccine is delivered nasally, so we should see increased compliance from those who fear needles.”
REDEE FLU™, which was developed at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, will require additional development before commercialization is possible. Mr. Radspinner said FluGen is well-positioned to meet both the financial and technical milestones associated with bringing REDEE™ to market.
“Our founders and scientific advisors include internationally-recognized UW–Madison virology researchers Yoshihiro Kawaoka and Gabriele Neumann and we’ve generated a lot of interest from investors and the National Institute for Health,” Mr. Radspinner said. “With their help, we can make a dramatic impact on influenza vaccination effectiveness, compliance and population health.”