Dr Suresh Mittal, Professor of Comparative Pathobiology at Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, US, gives details of his research on broad range vaccine for avian influenza, in a discussion with Sachin Jagdale
What are the criteria to get the grant of $1.55 million from The National Institutes of Health [USA]?
The National Institutes of Health has one of the best peer-review system in the world for funding the scientific research proposals based on scientific merit and programme priority. Only approximately 10 per cent of submitted applications receive funding.
What are the challenges that are faced while developing broad range vaccine for avian influenza?
Development of balanced and cross-reactive immune responses against conserved epitopes is important for designing broadly protective vaccine for avian influenza.
How long will this vaccine remain effective for?
These studies will be conducted with our best candidate vaccine. Our preliminary results in experimental animals suggest that the vaccine effectiveness may be longer than the seasonal influenza vaccines.
If any new virus strain is discovered, can the strain be included in this broad range vaccine?
We are working on a strategy in which many of the new emerging strains will be covered by the broadly protective vaccine. If the changes in the vaccine formulation are required, it will be easy to adapt it quickly.
Will this vaccine have any side effects? If yes, give details.
The current vaccine formulation does not seem to have noticeable side effects in animals. We will only know about the potential side effects when we will conduct Phase I clinical trial.
Have you identified any communities whom you would like to conduct the trials on?
We do not have an answer to this question at this time. We anticipate that the trial will be conducted in the US.
Is there any example of such broad range vaccine that is already in use?
There is no such broad range vaccine that is available at this time. There are a number of groups worldwide who are working to develop a universal influenza vaccine.
When is this broad range vaccine expected to enter the market?
It is difficult to predict the time-frame at this stage.
Will you be joining hands with any biotechnology/ biopharmaceutical company to commercialise the broad range vaccine?
There is always a possibility of licencing this technology to a commercial company for its production, marketing and further development. Alternately, we have excellent support at Purdue University to establish a startup company at Purdue Research Park.