5 flu vaccines that could shake up the influenza prevention market

9:29 am by | 5 Comments

As people in towns and cities across the U.S. feel the clammy grip of the flu epidemic, several biotechnology startups and Big Pharma companies are using innovative technology to develop different approaches to combating influenza and developing vaccines to combat multiple flu strains. Here are five of them:

Nasal spray: NanoBio Corp‘s flu vaccine is a nasal spray designed to offer short-term infection prevention and reduce transmission of the virus between humans. It uses nanoemulsion technology to develop a seasonal flu vaccine nasal spray. Currently in phase 2 development, the technology uses an oil-in-water emulsion to rapidly penetrate through pores and hair shafts to the site of an infection, and physically disrupt the outer membrane of pathogenic organisms by fusing with the invading flu virus and killing it before infection occurs. It would be used at times when there is a high risk of exposure such as air travel, a pediatrician’s office visit, hospital or any situation where groups of people congregate, according to the company’s website.

Combating more strains: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved GlaxoSmithKline’s quadrivalent vaccines last month. The vaccines contain two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains to potentially help broaden protection against seasonal influenza. It is approved for use in children 3 years of age and older. Current flu vaccines generally protect against three strains of influenza: two A strains and one B strain.

Universal vaccines: Biotechnology startup Visterra is developing a monoclonal antibody for universal flu vaccine VIS410 that could not only cover the three most common seasonal strains the widely available flu vaccines protect against, but also more deadly strains like the H1N1 variation.


Cross-strain protection: Inovio is developing a universal flu vaccine that would induce both preventive antibody and T-cell immune responses for cross-strain protection against known and new, unmatched viruses. It could be especially helpful for the elderly who are among those most vulnerable to contracting the flu. It is developing a seasonal flu vaccine as well as one that could combat a pandemic.

Egg alternative: One problem with flu vaccines on the market is that they are developed from fertilized chicken eggs, which makes them off limits to those with egg allergies. A new seasonal flu vaccine from Novartis using cultured animal cells won FDA approval in November. It will be marketed under brand name Flucelvax.


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Stephanie Baum

By Stephanie Baum

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for MedCityNews.com. She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She's written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.
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Flucelvax is not egg-free.  The process involves passaging the flu virus in eggs. There is no egg-free claim in the label.


Universal flu vaccines are many years away  - if ever - due to the incredibly long timelkine and very high cost to achieve regulatory approval so that they are hardly things to watch.


On the other hand Flublok, approved by the FDA on Wednesday, is the first egg free influenza vaccine and the first made without a live influenza virus.  You totally missed this important development that HHS stated was the most impoirtant advance in incluenza vaccine manufacturing technology in 50 years.


Danadams, My understanding of Flucelvax is that the virus strains are grown in cultured animal cells rather than eggs. You make an excellent point about Flublok, but I am afraid that was down to timing. My story was published shortly before the announcement came down that Flublok received FDA approval. Still, it should have been included. Regardless of the timing, universal flu vaccines would make a significant impact and that's why I included them.


Flu vaccination is simply big money for pharms. Far fewer people die each year from the flu than the CDC manufactures. Flu vaccination efficacy sucks and most folks do not need a flu shot. The pharms have made it seem like everyone should and now had made it so those that refuse to get one and work in the medical industry can be fired. All profit driven. With Congress recently passing the tax on immunizations pharms need to get more people to get shots so they can make up for the loss. Most folks get flu-like viruses and no flu shot is going to stop that. A complete waste of time for the average American.


 @WalterCzerniawski I totally agree with you Walter!  I have had one flu shot in my life, and will never get another.  You couldn't pay me to get a flu shot now!