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PhD ceremony Mr. S. Murugappan: New strategies for simplifying influenza vaccination

When:Fr 09-05-2014 at 12:45
Where:Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

PhD ceremony: Mr. S. Murugappan

Dissertation: New strategies for simplifying influenza vaccination

Promotor(s): prof. H.W. Frijlink, prof. A.L.W. Huckriede

Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Murugappan studied two alternative strategies to administer influenza vaccines. Influenza is a viral disease causing a huge impact on global health. Vaccination is considered to be the best measure to control the spread of influenza virus. Current influenza vaccines have limitations, i.e. they have to be administered by injection, the production capacity is limited, the elicited immune response is sub-optimal, and they are unstable. In his thesis Murugappan explored two strategies to overcome these shortcomings.

As first strategy, a dry and stable vaccine powder for pulmonary delivery was developed that can be stored safely at ambient temperatures for an extended period of time. Pulmonary administration of these powders to mice resulted in excellent immune responses particularly when the powder also contained suitable immune stimulating agents, so-called adjuvants. Pulmonary administration of vaccine powders may therefore result in dose sparing by which the pressure on production facilities becomes reduced.

As second strategy, a tablet containing a stabilized vaccine was developed that can be administered under the tongue. Our studies performed in mice indicate that tablets prepared from a given influenza virus strain can prime the immune response for later immunization with a new influenza strain. In particular during a pandemic such vaccination regime would be an improvement as it safes both the amount of vaccine to be prepared from the newly circulating virus and time to prepare this vaccine.

Although both strategies hold great promise, extensive research toward safety and clinical efficacy should be performed before they can be applied in humans.

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