SLU wants you to help them perfect the flu vaccine

A clinical trial is underway.

Fred Bodimer
August 09, 2019 - 3:32 am

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Saint Louis University researchers are trying to find a better flu vaccine -- taking part in a federally-funded clinical trial that aims to boost the effectiveness of the vaccine.

"We are testing two new adjuvants -- which are substances that help the body to make a better or stronger immune response to vaccines," said Dr. Sharon Frey, clinical director of Saint Louis University's Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit and the principal investigator for the St. Louis trial.  "We are testing these two new adjuvants with two FDA-approved flu vaccines to see if they produce the same kind of immune response or maybe one adjuvant is better compared to the other adjuvant."

In addition to learning if the adjuvants impact the body's immune response, researchers will gather information about safety and whether the vaccines with added adjuvants are well tolerated.

 During the 2017-18 flu season, the CDC estimates there were nearly 50 million cases of the flu with nearly one million hospitalizations due to complications from influenza and nearly 75-thousand deaths in the United States.  Over the past two years, the vaccine's effectiveness was much lower than in previous years.

"We are always trying to figure out how to improve influenza vaccines because they are the only good way we have to prevent the flu  -- except for using good hand washing techniques and protecting ourselves from sneezing or coughing on each other," Dr. Frey tells KMOX.   "So we are always trying to figure out if there is a better vaccine that we can make and if so, how.  We need something to boost the immune response so people's responses to the flu vaccine are improved."

This is a national study sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.  It is taking place in eight locations with as many as 240 volunteers.

"At our site at St. Louis University, we will be enrolling up to 30 individuals," said Dr. Frey.  "You must be between 18 and 45 years of age and in good health.  Each person would then be required to have ten visits at the SLU Vaccine Center.  The study lasts for a period of twelve months."

Participants will receive $75 per visit for their time and travel.

For more information, call 314-977-6333or email vaccine@slu.edu.