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Vaccines (Basel). 2018 Apr 1;6(2). pii: E20. doi: 10.3390/vaccines6020020.

New Kids on the Block: RNA-Based Influenza Virus Vaccines.

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PATH's Center for Vaccine Innovation and Access, 455 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20001, USA.
Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


RNA-based immunization strategies have emerged as promising alternatives to conventional vaccine approaches. A substantial body of published work demonstrates that RNA vaccines can elicit potent, protective immune responses against various pathogens. Consonant with its huge impact on public health, influenza virus is one of the best studied targets of RNA vaccine research. Currently licensed influenza vaccines show variable levels of protection against seasonal influenza virus strains but are inadequate against drifted and pandemic viruses. In recent years, several types of RNA vaccines demonstrated efficacy against influenza virus infections in preclinical models. Additionally, comparative studies demonstrated the superiority of some RNA vaccines over the currently used inactivated influenza virus vaccines in animal models. Based on these promising preclinical results, clinical trials have been initiated and should provide valuable information about the translatability of the impressive preclinical data to humans. This review briefly describes RNA-based vaccination strategies, summarizes published preclinical and clinical data, highlights the roadblocks that need to be overcome for clinical applications, discusses the landscape of industrial development, and shares the authors' personal perspectives about the future of RNA-based influenza virus vaccines.


RNA vaccine; clinical trial; infectious disease; influenza virus

Conflict of interest statement

In accordance with the University of Pennsylvania policies and procedures and our ethical obligations as researchers, we report that Norbert Pardi is named on patents describing the use of modified mRNA in lipid nanoparticles as a vaccine platform. We have disclosed those interests fully to the University of Pennsylvania, and we have in place an approved plan for managing any potential conflicts arising from licensing of our patents.

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