UW gets large grant to help develop universal flu vaccine

The work happening inside this lab on the UW campus could lead to the world's first universal flu vaccine.

The UW School of Medicine just got a huge financial boost to help scientists develop a universal flu vaccine.

The $11.3 million grant came from California-based “Open Philanthropy Project."

The money will go in part towards advancing computer software created at UW’s Institute for Protein Design.

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The computer technology has created “synthetic” proteins which researchers say can lead to vaccines with the ability to fight multiple strains of the flu virus.

“We found that if you take part of the virus and stick it on our little self-assembling proteins, it would induce a more robust immune system,” said biochemist and UW Assistant Professor Neil King.

And researchers say this is critical, especially since this year’s flu shot was only 25 percent effective against the most dominant strain.

“This grant is really transformational,” said David Baker, the institute’s director. “If it will happen, it will happen here.”

The goal of the universal care vaccine is so that people don’t have to get a flu shot every year as the flu strain mutates.

Researchers say people would only get a shot every five to seven years, or ideally, only once for a lifelong protection against the flu.

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