A new candidate vaccine against avian flu

- Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong, March 1, 2009 -

Researchers at HKU and NIH have developed in a collaborative project a multivalent vaccine against H5N1 by piggy-backing it on the vaccinia virus vector. The HKU team included Leo Poon and Connie Leung (Department of Microbiology), John Nicholls (Department of Pathology) and Malik Peiris (Department of Microbiology and Scientific Director of HKU-PRC) who was one of the senior authors of the study supported through the Area of Excellence program on the “Control of pandemic and inter-pandemic influenza” funded by the University Grants Council of Hong Kong.


The authors adopted a strategy based on the use of a “live delivery vector, the incorporation of a repertoire of antigenic targets to achieve broad cross protection, and the incorporation of a molecular adjuvant to enhance the breadth and durability of vaccine-induced immune responses.” (Vaccinia virus-based multivalent H5N1 avian influenza vaccines adjuvanted with IL-15 confer sterile cross-clade protection in mice. J Immunol. 2009 Mar 1;182(5):3063-71). This vaccine induced cross-neutralizing antibodies as well as robust cellular immune responses in vaccinated mice and conferred sterile cross-protection with 100% efficacy against H5N1 viruses of different clades. Although it remains to be seen whether the vaccine will work also in humans, this strategy may also allow production of a cheap and stable vaccine that would be more easily available to developing countries. For more details, read the press release of the LKS Faculty of Medicine.


From left to right, Dr Leo Poon, Pr Malik Peiris and Pr Yi Guan.