A major challenge in influenza research is the selection of an appropriate animal model that accurately reflects the disease and the protective immune response observed in humans. A workshop organised by the EDUFLUVAC consortium, a European Union funded project coordinated by the European Vaccine Initiative, brought together experts from the influenza vaccine community with the aim to discuss the current knowledge and future perspectives for testing broadly reactive influenza vaccines in animal models. The programme included a diversity of models from well-established and publicly accepted models to cutting edge, newly developed animal models as well as ex-vivo approaches and human models. The audience concluded that different vaccine approaches may require evaluation in different animal models, depending on the type of immune response induced by the vaccine. Safety is the main concern for transition to clinical development and influenza vaccine associated enhanced disease was specifically emphasised. An efficient animal model to evaluate this aspect of safety still needs to be identified. Working with animal models requires ethical compliance and consideration of the 3R principles. Development of alternative approaches such as ex-vivo techniques is progressing but is still at an early stage and these methods are not yet suitable for broader application for vaccine evaluation. The human challenge is the ultimate model to assess influenza vaccines. However this model is expensive and not largely applicable. The currently used pre-clinical models are not yet specifically focused on studying unique aspects of a universal influenza vaccine. Further collaboration, communication and effective networking are needed for success in establishment of harmonised and standardised pre-clinical models for evaluation of new influenza vaccines. This report does not provide a complete review of the field but discusses the data presented by the speakers and discussion points raised during the meeting.
- Animal models
- “Universal” vaccine