Dr James E. Crowe, Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Centre at Vanderbilt University and presenter at the World Vaccine Congress 2022 explained how new discoveries in the fight against influenza, including the targeted use of human monoclonal antibodies, may lead to a “universal” flu vaccine.  

“Almost certainly, we now have the capability to make influenza vaccines and antibodies that will be more broadly protective than the ones we have been using and will work better than what we now have.” 

He expects a “lot of promise in the next 3 to 5 years” for “better and longer” antibodies. This, he hopes, will take us closer to a “universal influenza vaccine”.

Novel research on human monoclonal antibodies has revealed new sites of vulnerability in the flu virus. This research coincides with Dr Crowe’s work as Chief Scientist for the Advanced Human Epidemic Antibody Defences 100 programme (AHEAD 100). 

“You would think that all the places on the influenza virus that could be targeted would already be known by now, but we are still finding new sites of vulnerability. That’s exciting because these newly identified sites offer new potential targets for a universal vaccine.”   

 He realises that “there’s a lot of benefit from having that second protein in a vaccine” and identifies an opportunity to “optimise the form and amount” in vaccine candidates. Neuraminidase-based immunity, therefore, is a “lot more important than we knew”

Although experts are concerned about vaccine fatigue Dr Crowe warns that the “flu periodically will cause pandemics greater in size and impact than COVID”. Flu, he says, kills “tens of thousands of people in the US” each year, and “that should be preventable”.

 To see Dr James Crowe at the World Vaccine Congress in 2023 click here to get your tickets!