Excerpt - editing is mine
September 27, 2013
The Vanderbilt Vaccine
Research Program (VVRP) has received a contract from the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue its work as one of the nation's
Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEU). Vanderbilt is one of nine
institutions that have the potential to receive funding up to $135
million per year from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the NIH, over a seven-year period.
"This contract renewal is evidence of the importance of this work to
public health on an international and national scale," said Kathryn
Edwards, M.D., Sarah H. Sell and Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Pediatrics, and director of the VVRP.
As a VTEU for the NIH, the VVRP has conducted trials to inform public policy twice in the last decade to address potential pandemic concerns: once to test and evaluate the H1N1 influenza
vaccine at the start of the 2009 pandemic, and again just this month to
evaluate a vaccine against a potential future pandemic threat from the
H7N9 avian influenza.
Other research projects involve the testing of enhancements to the
formulation of influenza vaccines to improve their protective power. The
additives that are used to enhance flu vaccine are called "adjuvants."
"When these adjuvants are added to vaccines, they improve the responses
and reduce the amount of vaccine needed," Edwards said. "This has
proven to be particularly important in avian influenza vaccines which
can lack the ability to adequately stimulate a protective response in
our immune systems."
Edwards says adjuvants are also exciting because of their potential to help avoid vaccine
shortages in the future. If an adjuvant makes a vaccine 20 times more
potent, it allows manufacturers to stretch vaccine supplies into 20
times more doses.
"That might mean, in the case of pandemic flu, that we can protect our
population and others in developing countries that do not have the
potential to make vaccines," Edwards said.