Universal flu vaccine to be tested in Indonesia
9 Dec 2010
Australia and Indonesia are collaborating to produce and trial
a universal flu vaccine.
New technology, invented by Dr Mohammed Alsharifi of the
University of Adelaide) and Professor Arno Müllbacher of the
Australian National University, has helped to generate a new
influenza vaccine, GammaFlu, that provides cross-protection against
current influenza viruses as well as any other unknown strains that
may arise in the future.
"The frequent arising of new influenza strains represents the
greatest challenge to health authorities as it renders currently
available vaccines ineffective," says Dr Mohammed Alsharifi, the
Head of the Vaccine Research Group at the School of Molecular and
Biomedical Science, University of Adelaide.
"While annual vaccine reformulation appears to be effective
against closely matched strains of influenza, the current method is
not effective against drifted strains as well as new pandemic
strains, as illustrated by the recent H1N1 pandemic. This raises the
need for a new technology," he says.
Dr Alsharifi says the recent experience of swine flu and the
continuing fears of the medical, scientific and world health
communities of the sudden emergence of a deadly bird flu strain,
means that a new approach to flu vaccines needs to be contemplated.
"What we need is some protection against all influenza virus A
strains, including any emergent pandemic virus," he says.
"Our technology is expected to change the world of vaccination,
as it can be implemented to produce many other vaccines," Dr
To translate their basic scientific discoveries into clinical
application, both scientists established the company Gamma Vaccines
Pty Ltd in July 2009. Gamma Vaccines is now commercializing its
gamma-irradiated influenza vaccine to capture part of the global
market for flu vaccines, which is estimated at US$4 billion
Since its establishment, the company has devised a significant
global health initiative as part of its commercialization plans,
aimed at making its technology available to developing countries.
"As our near neighbours, with a population of over 240 million,
Indonesia represents an exciting opportunity to take this technology
from the laboratory to the people," Dr Alsharifi says.
Gamma Vaccines has now signed a memorandum of understanding with
Indonesian pharmaceutical companies PT Bio Farma and PT Soho
Industri Pharmasi, establishing a three-way collaboration that will
see the development, manufacturing, clinical trials and distribution
of the vaccine in Indonesia and other ASEAN countries.
As part of the collaboration, a team of scientists from PT Bio
Farma (the Indonesian State-owned vaccine manufacturer) will be
trained in various aspects of the new technology, including
production, safety and quality control. This training will be held
in the Vaccine Research Laboratory at the University of Adelaide.