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Novel Vaccine Platforms For Influenza

Answering the need for improved vaccines to address current challenges

Existing commercial influenza vaccines have major drawbacks. We aim to develop the next-generation influenza vaccines to overcome these limitations, in order to confront annual seasonal outbreaks of influenza as well as influenza pandemics.

Our vaccines are designed to induce long-lasting, potent, and broadly reactive immune responses against both human and animal influenza viruses. With the findings generated from this program, and the novel immune correlates identified from the HHGP – Hong Kong project developed by C2i, we will select and generate the most promising vaccine candidates.

Developing universal influenza vaccines mediating T cell-based broad cross-subtype protection

Developing live-attenuated vaccines

Investigating vaccine mismatch

Influenza vaccine preparation

Egg inoculation is a safe and traditional method in which viruses used for vaccine production are introduced into chicken eggs.

This time-tested approach allows for the replication of viruses within the eggs, and the resulting viral material harvested from the allantoic fluid is purified and used as a basis for vaccine production.

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Vaccine development strategies

Our vaccine development strategies are the result of decades of rigorous and extensive basic research. This research forms the foundation upon which we build our improved vaccination programs, ensuring their effectiveness and safety, and determines how vaccines can be designed to elicit a robust and enduring immune response.

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This program is designed to create technology-based startups that offer significant potential for playing a pivotal role in bridging the gap between scientific breakthroughs and their commercialization and translation into real-world solutions.

These startups will leverage cutting-edge technologies to accelerate the process of bringing vaccines from the laboratory to market. We generate the necessary expertise to navigate complex regulatory frameworks and to establish strategic partnerships with pharmaceutical companies or healthcare organizations.

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Key research staff in the team

We have a multidisciplinary team in this program with a proven track record of previous collaboration who have contributed to the initial work (already published with some patents) on these novel vaccine strategies. 

 

Malik Peiris and Leo LM Poon (HKU) are molecular virologists who have extensive experience in influenza virology and “universal influenza vaccine” development. 

 

Sophie A Valkenburg (HKU-PRP) is an immunologist who studies influenza virus-induced immune responses in mice/humans. 

 

John M Nicholls (HKU) is a pathologist who studies influenza virus-induced pathological changes in animals/humans. 

 

Hui-Ling Yen (HKU) is a virologist expert in using animal models (e.g. mouse and ferret) to study influenza virus pathogenicity and transmission. 

 

Liyanage P Perera (NIH, USA) is a translational research scientist and his research focuses on applying vaccinia virus-based vector approach to treat cancer and infectious diseases. He also has experience in human clinical trials.

 

The team holds multiple relevant patents. The experimental animal studies needed will be carried out at the world-class HKU Bio-safety level three facility.

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THE TEAM

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Professor Leo Poon

Managing Director & Lead Scientist

Professor Leo Poon received his doctoral training in Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in University of Oxford (1996-1999). After his graduation, he returned to Hong Kong and worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1999-2001). He joined the University of Hong Kong as a Research Assistant Professor in 2001. He currently serves as a Professor in the School of Public Health, HKU.

Professor Poon involves in influenza research for over 20 years. He studied the replication and transmission of this virus. He developed several molecular tests for emerging avian influenza viruses (e.g. H5N1, pandemic H1N1/2009 and H7N9). In 2009, he played an active role in the H1N1 pandemic and identified the first reassortant of pandemic H1N1/2009 virus in pigs. Currently, he focuses on researching the molecular biology and vaccinology of influenza virus.

 

In 2003, Professor Poon involved in the discovery of a novel coronavirus as the aetiological cause of SARS. He is one of the firsts who decoded the first SARS coronavirus sequence. These findings allowed him to develop several useful molecular tests for the diagnosis of SARS. The identification of SARS coronavirus in humans and animals also prompted him to hunt for novel viruses in wildlife and this leaded to the discovery of the first and many others coronaviruses in bats. He currently also actively involves in studies related to MERS and SARS-CoV-2.

Publications 
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Professor Mark Zanin

Assistant Professor

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Dr. Alex Chin

Research Assistant Professor

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Dr. Lei Hui

Post-Doctoral Fellow

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Tom Shuen

Research Assistant I

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Mandy Ho

Research Assistant I

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Wong Sie Yeng

Research Assistant I

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Queenie Deng

Research Assistant I

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Krishnan S. Pavithra

Research Assistant I

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Gigi Leung

Research Assistant I

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Ivan Lu

Research Assistant I

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Rina Su

Research Assistant I

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Norma Chan

Research Assistant I

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