Nanostructures for the development of vaccines against avian influenza virus
The influenza virus causes upper respiratory tract infections in humans, avian species, and a variety of mammals. The avian influenza virus is a type A virus that is highly mutable. Traditional vaccine strategies against the influenza A virus are susceptible to the emergence of epidemic strains that are beyond vaccination coverage. In addition, there is no vaccine strategy applied to farmed birds affected by the influenza A virus, therefore the emergence of a flu epidemic results in the destruction of livestock to prevent the virus from spreading.
The long-term objective of this research project is to develop a new generation vaccine that is inexpensive, easy to administer, and has a broad spectrum to fight the various strains of avian influenza virus. The concept of "various strains" refers to the use of "universal" epitope antigens conserved in various strains of avian influenza virus to provide cross-protection. Thus, two highly conserved viral epitopes are targeted. State-of-the-art technologies developed in two laboratories will be combined: nanotechnology and a new adjuvant. These approaches will allow simple production of nanoparticles that do not require any special containment, as opposed to traditional vaccines produced in embryonated eggs.
This project is a collaboration between the Université du Québec à Montréal and the National Institute for Agricultural Research (France).
The Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund is a partnership of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Affairs Canada, and IDRC. It represents a joint investment of CA$57 million over five years to support the development, production, and commercialization of innovative vaccines against priority livestock diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.