Saturday, September 28, 2013

VVRP receives contract from NIH to continue its work as Vaccine & Treatment Evaluation Units

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.

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