The University of Montana announced this week that the National Institutes of Health have awarded a $10 million contract to UM to help develop a universal flu vaccine.

UM Vice President of Research and Creative Scholarship, Scott Whittenberg, said the effort to develop such a vaccine would eliminate the guesswork in coming up with a different vaccine every flu season.
“It’s quite annoying when you get your flu shot and then you find out a month or two later and they say this one’s not effective against this particular strain of the flu, said Whittenberg. “This project is to develop an adjuvant vaccine for the flu that will treat any strain of the flu that comes along. It’s less specific to the types of flu that will be circulating during that time of year.”

Whittenberg said the National Institutes of Health are investing $10 million here in Missoula and at other institutions for this ambitious project.

“Its $10 million over a one year contract with the National Institutes of Health,” he said. “It has multiple partners we’re working with including the University of California at San Diego, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and then one of our partners is actually a business startup that’s in Mon-Tec, our business incubator, a company called Inimmune.”

Founded in 2016, Inimmune focuses on the discovery and development of new immunomodulatory therapeutics for treatment of allergic diseases, infectious disease and cancer.