Influenza and adaptive immunity

Gunnveig Grødeland
Group leader

The group performs research related to modulation of adaptive immune responses. Influenza is the key disease model used, and the research includes investigations into both the immunological signatures of vaccine efficacy as well as development of the next generation vaccines against infectious diseases.

Current vaccines are still mostly being developed by the principle established by Edward Jenner in the late 18th century: a less pathogenic version of a virus is injected to protect against the threatening version. While this principle has proven highly successful in the past, it falls short when aiming for broad protection against highly mutagenic pathogens, or pathogens that have developed mechanisms to thwart the immune system. A main objective for the group is thus to study immunological mechanisms behind protective immunity, and use the generated knowledge for development of improved vaccine formats against variable pathogens.

Influenza is an example of a variable pathogen where novel vaccine formats are greatly needed for protection of the population. Every year, seasonal epidemics cause considerable global morbidity and mortality, but the efficacy of conventional vaccines is low. In addition, an antigenic shift may cause a threatening pandemic emergence against which the currently used vaccines are of little relevance. Thus, it is important to use immunological knowledge for development of efficient vaccines.

About our research in Norwegian