Influenza Vaccines, Therapeutics, and Monoclonal Antibodies

Concerns about a potential influenza pandemic and its prevention are a regular part of health news, with bird (avian) influenza (prominently including H5N1 strains) being a major concern. Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to minimize suffering and death from influenza. Currently, there is not an effective way to vaccinate against avian influenza without knowing what subtype and strain will circulate. Described here are two technologies with application to development of vaccines against influenza as well as therapeutics and monoclonal antibodies. One technology provides for development of potentially broadly protective influenza vaccines, while the other seeks to improve immune response to the vaccine through increased receptor affinity.

The first technology offers candidate DNA vaccines that were primarily designed to elicit neutralizing antibodies to target H5N1, H1N1, H3N2 and other subtypes of influenza. The candidate vaccines express H/HA or neuramidase (N/NA) protein that has been codon optimized and/or modified at the protease cleavage site. The modified genes could be used in DNA vaccines, in viral vectors, recombinant proteins/particles or combination. Exemplary animal studies use proprietary expression systems that increase protein expression relative to commonly used alternatives. This invention potentially provides a vaccine strategy for controlling influenza epidemics, including avian flu, should it cross over to humans; the 1918 strain of flu; and seasonal flu strains. In addition, this invention is designed to lead to a combination vaccine to provide a broadly protective vaccine.

The second technology relates to H5N1 influenza vaccine candidates in which mutations have been introduced to increase affinity of the hemagglutinin (H or HA) for the sialic acid receptor found in humans, which have a different sialic acid linkage than the corresponding avian receptor. These mutations could therefore result in a higher immune response in vaccines, producing a more robust response than other H5N1 vaccine candidates that retain their avian receptor preferences. These mutations also changed antibody-sensitivity of the vaccine candidates. The H5 modifications can be expressed from DNA or adenoviral vectors, or the proteins themselves can be administered. Additionally, these mutated HAs can be used to develop therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. The technology describes three (3) unique monoclonal antibodies that react with wild-type H5, wild-type H5 and mutant HA equivalently, and the mutant HA, respectively.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • Influenza vaccine for pandemic or epidemic application
  • Therapeutic antibodies
  • Potential for combination vaccine for broad protection, removing need for seasonal strain monitoring
  • DNA vaccines are easy to produce and store
  • No risk of reversion to pathogenic strain as with live-attenuated virus vaccines

Development Stage:
  • Phase I clinical trial active for DNA vaccine candidate encoding H5, Indonesian strain (VRC-AVIDNA-036-00VP)
  • Animal (mouse) data available
  • Codon optimized for expression in human cells

Related Invention(s):


Gary Nabel (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Zhi-yong Yang (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Wing-pui Kong (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Lan Wu (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Chih-jen Wei (NIAID)  ➽ more inventions...

Intellectual Property:
US Application No. 12/279,332
PCT Application No. PCT/US2007/004506
US Application No. 60/774,923
PCT Application No. PCT/US2007/081002
US Application No. 12/443,964

WP Kong, C Hood, ZY Yang, CJ Wei, L Xu, A Garcia-Sastre, TM Tumpey, GJ Nabel. Protective immunity to lethal challenge of the 1918 pandemic influenza virus by vaccination. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2006 Oct 24;103(43):15987-15991. PubMed abs
GJ Nabel. Gene-based influenza vaccines: a look to the future. Presentation to World Health Organization (WHO), February 2007; available online at Nabel WHO presentation
CJ Wei, L Xu, WP Kong, W Shi, K Canis, J Stevens, ZY Yang, A Dell, SM Haslam, IA Wilson, GJ Nabel. Comparative efficacy of neutralizing antibodies elicited by recombinant hemagglutinin proteins from avian H5N1 influenza virus. J Virol. 2008 Jul;82(13):6200-6208. PubMed abs

Licensing Contact:
Amy Petrik, Ph.D.
Phone: 240-627-3721

OTT Reference No: E-116-2006-0
Updated: Oct 21, 2009