Vanderbilt to lead worldwide effort to develop universal flu vaccine

(Daniel Paquet / CC BY 2.0)

Each year, 250,000 to 300,000 people lose their lives to influenza -- and now Vanderbilt is leading a world-wide effort to develop an international flu vaccine.

The Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative was announced Thursday. It's set to launch in 2018 with a series of clinical trials around the world.

Right now, Vanderbilt says vaccines can reduce the risk of flu by up to 60 percent, but that hasn't always been the case. Some years saw as low as a 10 percent effective rate.

The initiative is being spearheaded by Dr. James Crowe Jr, director at Vanderbilt Vaccine Center and Dr. C. Buddy Creech, associate professor and director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. It's being funded by The Human Vaccines Project, a public-private partnership.

“These trials will be among the most comprehensive human clinical research studies ever undertaken," Crowe said. "They will determine how the immune system protects against different strains of influenza in different populations and geographic regions of the world, and what is required for a vaccine to generate long-term protective immunity."

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