Congratulations to Professor Sunetra Gupta on being awarded an ERC Proof of Concept Grant. Proof of Concept grants can be used, for example, to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts.
Project: A novel universal influenza vaccine targeting epitopes of limited variability (UniFluVac)
Researcher: Sunetra Gupta
Host Institution: The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford
ERC Funding: € 150,000
2010 AdG Project: Evolution of Pathogen and Host Diversity (DIVERSITY)
Influenza viruses change constantly. In general, this happens by 'antigenic drift' whereby small changes in the virus’ genes happen continually over time. Consequently, even though you may have had the flu one year, you may become sick the next year.
With the Advanced Grant, Sunetra Gupta and her team have discovered that the changes in the influenza virus are primarily driven by natural immune responses against epitopes of limited variability. An epitope is part of the virus to which antibodies bind and prevent the virus from entering cells. Dr Craig Thompson from Sunetra Gupta’s team has identified epitopes of limited variability in influenza A virus subtypes H1 and H3 as well as in two lineages of influenza B. By vaccinating against the epitopes, immunity against all past and present H1, H3 and influenza B strains can be achieved. With the Proof of Concept grant, the team aim to develop a vaccine which would remove the need to vaccinate each year.