The projects will support the development of new and longer-lasting vaccines.
The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced it has awarded three new projects £25m in funding to support research for future vaccine development.
The projects aim to build an understanding of viruses and how the immune system reacts to different challenges, as well as inform the development of new, broader and longer-lasting vaccines.
The funding for the projects is part of one of five of the UKRI’s strategic themes, as part of its £185m-funded five-year strategy, ‘Transforming tomorrow together 2022 to 2027’.
Dr Stephen Oakeshott, medical research council head, of infections and immunity, UKRI, said that the programme “aims to harness research and innovation to fight against the threats posed by infectious diseases”.
The ‘Tackling Infections’ theme will help to bolster the UK’s national defense and response capabilities by tackling infectious diseases to better prepare for potential pandemics and tackle antimicrobial resistance.
The three projects being funded will be based at Imperial College London (ICL), the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.
ICL’s ‘G2P2 virology consortium: keeping pace with SARS-CoV-2 variants’ project will track how genetic changes emerge in the COVID-19-causing virus affect phenotypes to improve current vaccines and inform changes in policy based on increased risk to population death.
The project ‘IMPROVE: Immune Memory and Mechanisms of Protection from Vaccines’ at the University of Oxford aims to further understand how vaccines protect people not only improve vaccines against COVID-19 but also other respiratory pathogens, including influenza.
The third project at the University of Cambridge, ‘Evolutionarily smart vaccine strain selection for proactive vaccinology’ will work to enhance the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine strain selection process to increase protection for the UK population.
Maria Caulfield, minister for vaccines and public health, said: “Creating the next generation of vaccines is crucial to protecting the most vulnerable and managing future threats.
“These projects will enhance our understanding of infectious diseases… and how our bodies react to equip us with the best tools to fight back.”