Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 21998725
PLoS ONE 2011;6(10):e25938
There is a need to develop a universal vaccine against influenza virus infection to avoid developing new formulations of a seasonal vaccine each year. Many of the vaccine strategies for a universal vaccine target strain-conserved influenza virus proteins, such as the matrix, polymerase, and nucleoproteins, rather than the surface hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins. In addition, non-disease-causing viral vectors are a popular choice as a delivery system for the influenza virus antigens. As a proof-of-concept, we have designed a novel influenza virus immunogen based on the NP backbone containing human T cell epitopes for M1, NS1, NP, PB1 and PA proteins (referred as NPmix) as well as a construct containing the conserved regions of influenza virus neuraminidase (N-terminal) and hemagglutinin (C-terminal) (referred as NA-HA). DNA vectors and vaccinia virus recombinants expressing NPmix (WR-NP) or both NPmix plus NA-HA (WR-flu) in the cytosol were tested in a heterologous DNA-prime/vaccinia virus-boost vaccine regimen in mice. We observed an increase in the number of influenza virus-specific IFNγ-secreting splenocytes, composed of populations marked by CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells producing IFNγ or TNFα. Upon challenge with influenza virus, the vaccinated mice exhibited decreased viral load in the lungs and a delay in mortality. These findings suggest that DNA prime/poxvirus boost with human multi-epitope recombinant influenza virus proteins is a valid approach for a general T-cell vaccine to protect against influenza virus infection.