The University of Alabama (UAB) at Birmingham School of Medicine’s Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic is hosting the trial of a candidate vaccine for H7N9, a strain of avian influenza.
UAB is one of four sites in the US to conduct the trial, which is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the US National Institutes of Health.
The trial aims to develop an effective vaccine for any future H7N9 pandemic incidence. Its efficacy will be tested with an adjuvant (AS03) in combination with a quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccine.
AS03 is a substance that improves the body's immune response to an antigen.
In the trial, 150 healthy patients will be divided into three arms and administered with the H7N9 vaccine along with AS03. Reactions to H7N9 will be compared between patients who have received a standard flu vaccine and those who have not.
Subjects of the 16-month long trial will be allowed to stay in the trial for a period of 13 months.
Enrollment in the trial has already commenced at UAB.
Alabama Vaccine Research Clinic director Paul Goepfert said: “We know that new flu viruses will continue to present themselves, and we need to be prepared to protect humans against those potential strains as they become a threat.”
In 2013, H7N9 was first seen in humans in China, and spread due to direct exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments.
So far, no instance of human infection of H7N9 has been reported in the US.