Prof Jason Hallet with a student in Jason Hallet lab

Imperial is a world-leading centre for vaccine research and is pioneering new approaches to manufacturing and outbreak response – ultimately helping to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and infectious diseases (SDG 3).

Vaccines are one of the great success stories of modern medicine, having eradicated or controlled many severe infections of major global importance, improving the lives of millions across the world. Yet, nearly one in five infants across the world, or 19.5 million children, do not currently have access to basic vaccines. Almost one third of deaths among children under five could be prevented through vaccine use. Distributing vaccines in developing countries, particularly in rural areas, is often difficult because of the costs associated with producing, transporting, and storing the vaccines using limited resources.

The Imperial-led Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub has developed a range of strategic partnerships with researchers, national centres and industry to revolutionise this area.

Professor Robin Shattock and team work on the manufacturing of RNA vaccines to enable quicker responses to outbreaks of known pathogens, such as a flu, as well as unknown pathogens. His team is developing synthetic RNA vaccines, which harness the body’s own cell machinery to induce an immune response. This technology could allow regions and cities to manufacture their own vaccines – which are ‘globally approved but locally made’.

Other teams in the Hub are also working on making vaccines that can withstand extreme temperatures, avoiding the need for refrigerated distribution and storage.

Meanwhile, Professor Wendy Barclay, from the Department of Infectious Disease, is working with the Roslin Institute to engineer the genomes of farm animals to make them resistant to influenza – preventing dangerous cross-species transmission.

Professor Barclay said: “With our idea to generate farmed animals that cannot be infected by influenza viruses we aim to bring global health security by stopping influenza pandemics from emerging.”