The American Lung Association Research Institute announced a three-year, $500,000 grant to Texas Biomedical Research Institute to help accelerate its efforts to develop a universal flu vaccine. This is the first Accelerator Program investment that the Lung Association has made since it launched the American Lung Association Research Institute earlier this year.
“The influenza virus is constantly changing. Current influenza vaccines help protect people against the flu, but the vaccine is not as effective if the flu strains in the vaccine don’t match those that are circulating that season,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “This is why we are proud to support and accelerate the work of the vaccine researchers at Texas Biomed who are working on a flu vaccine that protects against changing flu strains.”
The flu is a serious and highly contagious respiratory illness that can affect anyone. Each year before flu season, scientists must predict which influenza strains are most likely to be prevalent in the upcoming months and select three or four of these strains to be included in that season’s flu vaccine. While this strategy has been effective in significantly reducing severe flu illness, the disease continues to be a significant health burden. Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there were between 27 – 54 million influenza (flu) illnesses and between 19,000 and 58,000 deaths due to the flu.
“Our goal is to come up with a universal vaccine that will immunize people against all influenza strains, with long-lasting protection to potentially eliminate the need for yearly shots. Although current flu vaccines have helped reduce the number of people who die from the virus, a universal vaccine would protect more people every year,” said Luis Martinez-Sobrido, PhD, Professor at Texas Biomed in San Antonio, who is leading the research. “This partnership with the American Lung Association enables us to move quickly with this vaccine research.”
This funding was provided by the American Lung Association Research Institute, which launched in March to address the urgent and critical lung health challenges in our country. The Accelerator Program collaborates with government, non-profits and private industry to dramatically accelerate existing research to revolutionize lung health discovery and innovation.
About Texas Biomed
Texas Biomed is the nation’s only non-profit, independent research institute with the highest-level biocontainment laboratories, a national primate research center and over 80 years of experience. Scientists at the 200-acre campus in San Antonio regularly collaborate with academic institutes, the military, pharmaceutical companies, the National Institutes of Health and biotech start-ups. Its mission is to improve human health as a world leader in lifestyle and infectious disease research.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.