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Patent of the Week: In Search of a Universal Flu Vaccine

Patent of the Week

University of Chicago researchers, including Patrick Wilson, PhD, professor of medicine, UChicago Biological Sciences Division, have filed a patent for a panel of antibodies that neutralize a range of influenza strains.

The antibodies bind to neuraminidase (NA) glycoproteins, which play an important role in protecting against influenza virus infection. According to the researchers, the antibodies can be used in efforts to prevent or treat the flu – and can also supplement current vaccines.

When used therapeutically, the researchers demonstrated that the NA-reactive antibodies protected mice from lethal influenza virus challenge, even 48 hours after infection.

“These findings strongly suggest that influenza vaccines should be optimized to improve targeting of NA for durable and broad protection against divergent influenza strains,” they explained in a paper published in the journal Cell.

Building on this work and other efforts to develop a more effective flu vaccine, Wilson and a group of researchers from three other institutions in 2019 received a Grand Challenge for Universal Influenza Vaccine Development grant. The group will receive up to $2 million over two years. The grant is part of a $12 million initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Flu Lab.

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// Patent of the Week is a weekly column highlighting research and inventions from University of Chicago faculty.

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