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The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UT technology helping pharmaceuticals develop flu vaccine

Lorianne Willett

TFF Pharmaceuticals received a $2.97 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to develop a universal influenza vaccine using a “thin film freezing” technology developed by UT researchers. 

Principal investigator Bill Williams said the technology freeze-dries liquid medicines into a powder for higher efficiency, easier storage and more durability.

Jennifer Gordon, NIAID Program Officer for Influenza and Coronavirus Vaccines, said TFF Pharmaceuticals’ work under the NIAID grant aims to create a single vaccine that fights multiple strains of influenza.

“(The flu) is hard to predict, and the vaccine process can be lengthy, leaving people with a vaccine that no longer matches the strains predominantly circulating in the community,” Gordon said in an email. “There is a high priority need to develop vaccines that can provide greater protection than the currently used seasonal vaccines.”

Williams said vaccine storage poses a problem worldwide, as many countries lack the technology to keep vaccines cool. He said with thin film freezing, the powder does not need to be kept cold and forgoes the use of syringes or other materials typically associated with vaccines, facilitating easier distribution.

“It solves problems that there was no technology out there to solve,” Williams said.

The grant will allow researchers to test the vaccine’s efficacy on humans. 

“We’ve done animal studies and gotten good results,” Williams said. “Now it’s going to the next step to get it ready for the FDA.” 

According to the TFF Pharmaceuticals website, a vaccine’s effectiveness directly relates to its ability to reach the target organ. Because this vaccine can be inhaled directly into the lungs, the powder is more easily absorbed. Williams said the inhalation process also reduces the risk of rejection from the lungs. 

“Achieving the goal of a broadly protective influenza vaccine is going to take creative approaches and people from multiple disciplines combining forces,” Gordon wrote. “There is a lot of promise that we will be able to significantly move the needle in improving protection against influenza.”

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About the Contributor
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.