Blue Water Vaccines, a privately held company, will complete its fund-raising of $15 million to support the flu vaccine program, after agreeing with the University of Oxford, without disclosing terms of the agreement, providing Blue Water Vaccines the option to exclusively license a novel and potentially revolutionary universal influenza vaccine.
Developed by scientists at Oxford University and published in Nature Communications in 2018, the vaccine protects against all influenza strains by targeting parts of the virus that induce a protective immune response but are also limited in variability. The technology has the potential of providing life-long immunity against flu.
Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, said: “About 10 years ago, we predicted that regions of the virus that were limited in variability would drive the evolution of influenza. Using mathematical models, we showed that these regions would cycle between a limited number of conformations in time, in tandem with the development of immunity within the human population. Due to their limited variability and the ease with which immunity can be built up against them, such regions make ideal vaccine targets.”
Influenza is a major respiratory pathogen. It is estimated that there are over almost 500,000 deaths a year caused by influenza. The current influenza vaccines have serious shortcomings since it has to be administered yearly and typically provides protection to only 50% of the individuals who receive it.
Joseph Hernandez, Executive Chairman of Blue Water Vaccines, said: “This paradigm shifting technology has the potential to save the lives of millions of patients around the world who fall victim to influenza infections. We look forward to working and supporting the amazing team at Oxford to bring this technology to patients around the world.”