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Expert Rev Vaccines. 2009 Apr;8(4):499-508. doi: 10.1586/erv.09.6.

Universal M2 ectodomain-based influenza A vaccines: preclinical and clinical developments.

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  • 1Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, Ghent University Technologpierpark 927, B-9052 Ghent, Belgium.


Influenza vaccines used today are strain specific and need to be adapted every year to try and match the antigenicity of the virus strains that are predicted to cause the next epidemic. The strain specificity of the next pandemic is unpredictable. An attractive alternative approach would be to use a vaccine that matches multiple influenza virus strains, including multiple subtypes. In this review, we focus on the development and clinical potential of a vaccine that is based on the conserved ectodomain of matrix protein 2 (M2) of influenza A virus. Since 1999, a number of studies have demonstrated protection against influenza A virus challenge in animal models using chemical or genetic M2 external domain (M2e) fusion constructs. More recently, Phase I clinical studies have been conducted with M2e vaccine candidates, demonstrating their safety and immunogenicity in humans. Ultimately, and possibly in the near future, efficacy studies in humans should provide proof that this novel vaccine concept can mitigate epidemic and even pandemic influenza A virus infections.

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