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ESR 1.2: Outsmarting influenza virus immune escape



Influenza virus infections are associated with high morbidity and mortality rates, especially in immunocompromised and older individuals.  Due to constant mutation of the influenza virus RNA genome, vaccines do not always match with the circulating virus strains and may fail to induce adequate protection. Recent evidence indicates that vaccination with a seasonal influenza vaccine not only induces antibodies to the virus strains included in the vaccine, but also to previously encountered virus strains, a phenomenon called ‘back-boost’. The question now is whether it would be generally beneficial to include the most recently isolated rather than the most frequently encountered influenza strains in the vaccine since that would lead to antibody responses to the new as well as to the older strains. The aim of this project is to get insight into the dynamics of influenza-specific antibody responses after vaccination using a combination of epidemiological methods, assessment of biobank samples and in vitro and in vivo experiments. This unique combined approach is expected to render novel leads for optimization of future influenza vaccination strategies.


  • Anke Huckriede, Professor of Vaccinology, Department of Medical Microbiology​, University Medical Center Groningen
  • Eelko Hak, Professor of Clinical Pharmacoepidemiology, Department of Pharmacy, Unit of PharmacoTherapy, Epidemiology & Economics 


VisMederi Life Science, Italy​
University of Bergen, Norway

Relevant publications

  1. Fonville JM, Wilks SH, James SL, Fox A, Ventresca M, Aban M, et al. Antibody landscapes after influenza virus infection or vaccination. Science (80- ). 2014;346(6212):7–9.
  2. Patil HP, Murugappan S, de Vries-Idema J, Meijerhof T, de Haan A, Frijlink HW, et al. Comparison of adjuvants for a spray freeze-dried whole inactivated virus influenza vaccine for pulmonary administration. Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 2015 Jun;93:231–41.
  3. Darvishian M, Bijlsma MJ, Hak E, van den Heuvel ER. Effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine in community-dwelling elderly people. LANCET Infect Dis. 2014 Dec;14(12):1228–39.


Influenza; vaccine; vaccination strategy; vaccine trials, observational studies​