Animal models that can recapitulate the human immune system are essential for the preclinical development of safe and efficacious vaccines. Development and optimization of representative animal models are key components of the NIAID strategic plan for the development of a universal influenza vaccine. To gain insight into the current landscape of animal model usage in influenza vaccine development, NIAID convened a workshop in Rockville, Maryland that brought together experts from academia, industry and government. Panelists discussed the benefits and limitations of the field’s most widely-used animal models, identified currently available and critically needed resources and reagents, and suggested areas for improvement based on inadequacies of existing models. Although appropriately-selected animal models can be useful for evaluating safety, mechanism-of-action, and superiority over existing vaccines, workshop participants concluded that multiple animal models will likely be required to sufficiently test all aspects of a novel vaccine candidate. Refinements are necessary for all current model systems, for example, to better represent special human populations, and will be facilitated by the development and broader availability of new reagents. NIAID continues to support progress towards increasing the predictive value of animal models.
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