PVM Scholar’s Bird Flu Vaccine Research Receives $1.55 Million NIH Award

September 25, 2015

Dr. Suresh Mittal, PVM Professor of Comparative Pathobiology.


An avian influenza vaccine research team led by Purdue Veterinary Medicine Professor of Comparative Pathobiology Suresh Mittal is receiving $1.55 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The award will support the continuation of vaccine research that Dr. Mittal has conducted with collaborators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Dr. Mittal and CDC researchers Suryaprakash Sambhara and Ian York created a vaccine in 2006 for the H5N1 bird flu virus. The team  now is focusing on developing a broad spectrum vaccine capable of covering emerging influenza viruses that have the potential to cause the next influenza pandemic in humans, including H5N1 H7N3, H7N7, H7N9 and H9N2. The new H7N9 influenza virus was found in China in 2013 and is responsible for 229 deaths and 665 cases as of May 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

"These viruses begin in wild birds and as they evolve they expand to poultry and then to humans," Dr. Mittal said. "There is a very real risk that we will face an avian influenza pandemic at some point in the future and we need to be prepared. One important way to prepare is to develop and stockpile an effective vaccine. We can't predict what strain of the virus will be involved in a pandemic, so we need a vaccine that can offer protection across all of the strains."

Mittal is working to create a vaccine that offers broad protection against multiple strains and mutations of the virus.  His method uses a harmless adenovirus as a vector to deliver avian influenza virus genes into the body where they produce influenza proteins that prime the immune system to fight an infection.  Dr. Mittal's avian influenza vaccine work has been described in papers for The Lancet, Journal of Infectious Diseases, Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Molecular Therapy, PLOS ONE and Virus Research.  The story was covered this week by WLFI-TV.  Click here to view the story, which includes an interview with Dr. Mittal.  Click here to view a complete Purdue news release about the research.

Writer: Kevin Doerr, pvmnews@purdue.edu

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