WARF: P110003US02

Safer Influenza Vaccine from Replication-Knock Out Virus


Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Gabriele Neumann, Makoto Ozawa

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing methods for generating live, attenuated influenza vaccines that elicit strong immune response without causing disease symptoms.
OVERVIEWInfluenza viruses instigate annual global epidemics. The first influenza pandemic in 40 years occurred during the 2009-2010 season, when a novel H1N1 strain emerged and spread worldwide. The United States alone witnessed an estimated 61 million cases and more than 12,000 deaths. Influenza can resist drugs and bodily defenses because it is prone to mutate.

Vaccination is one of the most effective countermeasures. Two types are currently available. The ‘flu shot’ is an inactivated (killed) vaccine. It is considered safe but confers short-term protection with limited efficacy, especially in young children and the elderly. Nasal sprays are live, attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIVs). They are more potent and updated annually, featuring genetic segments derived from several mutated strains.

However, LAIVs are approved in a limited number of countries and solely for individuals aged two through 49 who lack chronic conditions, are not pregnant and do not have compromised immunity. LAIVs are considered less safe because they may cause some disease symptoms and carry the very small risk of reverting back to a fully infectious form. New vaccines need to address these issues.
THE INVENTIONUW–Madison researchers have developed methods for generating novel influenza vaccines that can elicit robust immune response without the risk of symptoms or genetic reversion.

The recombinant influenza A virus is made to lack the genetic sequence necessary for replication in normal host cells. Specifically, the coding region of PB2 viral RNA can be deleted, disrupted or replaced with a harmless reporter gene useful for tracing during cell culture preparation. With the mutant gene segment, the virus is ‘biologically contained’—capable of replicating only in specially developed PB2-expressing cells.
  • New influenza vaccines
  • Basic and applied virology research
  • More effective than inactivated vaccines
  • Addresses safety concerns
  • Low risk of symptoms or genetic reversion
  • Unlike virus-like proteins (VLPs), PB2-knock-out contains RNA and enhances immune response.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Jennifer Gottwald at or 608-960-9854.
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A Single Location to Accelerate Translational Development of New Drugs

UW–Madison has the integrative capabilities to complete many key components of the drug development cycle, from discovery through clinical trials. As one of the top research universities in the world, and one of the two best-funded universities for research in the country, UW–Madison offers state-of-the-art facilities unmatched by most public universities.

These include the Small Molecule Screening Facility at the UW Comprehensive Cancer Center; the Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station, which provides consulting and laboratory services for developing formulations and studying solubility, stability and more; the Waisman Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility; the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research, which provides UW–Madison with a complete translational research facility; and the innovative, interdisciplinary Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, home to the private, nonprofit Morgridge Institute for Research and its public twin, WID, part of the university's graduate school. The highly qualified experts at these facilities are ready to work with you to create a library of candidates for drug development.