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FLUTCORE – teleconference
Wednesday, December 18th, 10.00 GMT (11.00 CET)
Mike Whelan, Coordinator
[MW] (iQur)
David Blanco
[DB] (3P)
Magda Campins
Amelie Guisseau
Andris Kazaks
Claude P. Muller
[CM] (CRP-Santé)
William Rosenberg
[WR] (UCL)
Dave Rowlands
[DR] (Univ-Leeds)
Sam Stephen
Nicola Stonehouse
Kaspars Tars
Sonia Uriona
Apologies for absence:
Tarit Mukhopadhay
The meeting was opened and chaired by MW, Coordinator.
Welcome and introduction, Dr. Mike Whelan (Project Coordinator)
MW thanks the participants for attending the teleconference.
He introduces Prof. WR, founder and CEO of iQur. WR introduces himself to the group and
provides an overview of his background expertise and research interest in hepatology and
virology. He reminds the history of iQur Limited: originally focused on liver disease and now
concentrating on therapeutics and vaccine development.
MW introduces Prof. DR. DR briefly presents the history of his laboratory at the University
of Leeds where the tandem core was originally invented and introduces SS, post-doctoral
researcher newly recruited to work on the FLUTCORE project.
Finally, MW introduces Prof MC who was unfortunately unable to join in the London kickoff meeting. MC tells the group that she is looking forward to hosting the next group meeting
in Barcelona.
CM then presents the team to be involved in the project at CRP-Santé, composed of a postdoctoral researcher (I-Na Lu), a Masters student (Aliki Papkonstantinou) and a technician
(Sophie), all working in the laboratory of immunology at CRP-Santé.
Other participants in the teleconference are: AK and KT for LBMC in Riga, SU for HUVH in
Barcelona and DB for 3P.
Review of action points resulting from the kickoff meeting
AG reviews the different action points discussed at the kick-off meeting in London.
In particular:
Action 5: composition of the external advisory board
Partners were asked to think about and propose names of potential external advisors to form the
project External Advisory Board.
The following experts have been proposed so far:
Prof. Adolfo García-Sastre - Mount Sinai Hospital. N Y (USA)
Dr. Peter Pushko - University of North Carolina
Prof. Wendy Barclay - Imperial College London
Prof Jeff Almond – University of Oxford
Prof. Benedikt Sas - Professor Corporate & Innovation Management / Chief Business Officer
at Ghent University to cover the regulatory aspects of the project.
WR enquires about the periodicity of External Advisory Board meetings and raises the issue of
associated travel costs for experts travelling from outside Europe. AG answers that External Advisory
Board members shall formally meet once a year, jointly with the Governing Board and will also be
kept informed about the project progress more informally on a regular basis. She confirms that the
project would cover the costs for EAB members’ travelling and accommodation, however no extra
remuneration can be provided to the appointed experts.
It is agreed to identify a specific budget for the External Advisory Panel meetings over the course of
the project.
Action 1: MW to circulate a list of names to the FLUTCORE board for approval
Action 2: AG to provide an estimation of the cost for travelling costs for EAB members
Action 6 and 7: communication
Natalia Elizalde has contacted the European Enterprise Network to enquire about the kind of
information/material needed from the project/partners.
The only reservation remains that they seem to want to take credit for setting up the project and the
consortium. DB confirms that 3P will continue to investigate if collaboration is possible and will
update the team in due course.
MC raises the issue of the dissemination strategy to be implemented for the project, and suggests
creating a brochure to presents the project and facilitate the recruitment of patients. The brochure will
be elaborated with the help of the communication team of the Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron and
will be translated in Spanish. All participants agree with this proposal. AG adds that a detailed
dissemination plan will be elaborated within the first year of the project to ensure an effective
dissemination for the project results. MW suggests that the text from the final version of the
FLUTCORE website should be used for this purpose.
MW finally informs the team that the next ESWI Influenza Conference will be held in Riga on 14th–
17th September 2014 (, and this looks like a very good opportunity to
discuss the progress of the project with and receive inputs from the influenza scientific community. A
call for abstract will be published on the 1st of February and CM suggests submitting a proposal for a
specific session or workshop to be organised by FLUTCORE on universal influenza vaccine.
Action 3: 3P to organise a teleconference with EEN and MW.
Action 4: MW to revert to ESWI and ask if a FLUTCORE session on universal influenza vaccine
seems feasible.
Action 8: start of WP2 activities
NS updates the participants about the start of the WP2 activities.
A teleconference will be organised in January with 3P to discuss the method development in regards
the requirements of GMP manufacture. Inputs from iQur will also be provided in the determination of
the long-term stability of VLPs.
MW adds that a meeting with iQur is scheduled in Leeds for early January where the method for
routine electron microscopic analysis of VLPs will be finalised, as well as the list of Standard
Operating Procedures (SOPs) required.
Action 5: Leeds to propose some possible dates for this meeting in Leeds.
Progress of the work
2 deliverables have been completed so far and submitted to the EC and so the project is currently on
 D1.1, Biosafety report and
 D9.1, constitution of the steering committee
We have recently heard from the project officer who has confirmed that D1.1 has been completed with
no further amendments required. The next deliverable D2.1: Method for routine electron microscopic
analysis of VLPs which was initially due by the end of December will be submitted with a slight delay
but NS confirms that this report should be ready in January.
MW then provides a detailed update on the progress of other workpackages’ activities. He reports on a
number of experiments performed by the iQur team in London. In particular, he explains that intial
animal experiments support the use of the codon optimised heterotandem (CoHo) version of tandem
core. As a result, all new clones are being made using this backbone. He further reports that
purification has been greatly improved by the addition of a second size exclusion column containing
the resin S1000. Coupled with vastly improved expression, which has resulted from the advice of the
Latvian partners, he is confident that yeast could be used as the expression vector of choice.He reports
that an initial virus challenge experiment was not successful, despite clear evidence of Seroconversion
and thinks that this is due to the severity of the influenza dose. CM confirmed that this was likely to be
an issue. WR recommends that a new LD50 be carried out on virus stocks. CM proposes to provide
iQur with the optimal dose requested to measure the PRA.
AK and KT report on difficulties encountered with yeast expression of tandem core and MW proposes
to send a yeast clone that is working to Riga. It is generally agreed that the assembly of tandem core is
likely to be inferior to wild-type core protein and that improved purification methodology may
overcome this limitation.
NS explains that the team in Leeds is waiting for the samples to be sent by consortium partners to
begin the analysis work. MW proposes that some of the material that iQur are currently developing
could be used and will send this in January. It is agreed that only yeast tandem core would suffice
since bacterial VLPs will not have the same level of background.
CM and the team in Luxembourg present the progress of their activities in regards antigens selection.
It is agreed that CRP-Santé will circulate a list of selected antigens once the construct is finalised.
It is agreed that vectors made in Luxembourg will be sent to iQur for expression and purification.
Once this is complete, VLP will be returned to Luxembourg for in vivo testing.
CM reminds that samples without VLPs will not be used for vaccination.
It is advised that potential intellectual property issues linked to the antigens selected by Luxembourg
should be investigated.
Action 6: CM to send dosage information for PRA measurement
Action 7: iQur to carry out LD50 in mice
Action 8: iQur to send a yeast clone that is working to Riga
Action 9: iQur to send purified VLP to Leeds for EM development
Action 10: iQur to investigate potential intellectual property issues linked to the peptise to be used
Project website
The project website: is now live and all members of the team are encouraged to
MW enquires whether each partner could provide a short description of their organisation for
publication on the website.
It is agreed to use the website as the main repository to exchange data and information about
experiments results.
Action 11: all participants to register to the FLUTCORE website
Action 12: each partner to provide a brief description of their organisation for publication on the
Date for the next FLUTCORE partner meeting
The next FLUTCORE meeting will be held on Thursday, 24th April 2014 at the Hospital
Universitari Vall d'Hebron, Barcelona. Participants are invited to travel on the 23rd to allow an early
start of the meeting on the 24th.
A conference dinner will be organised on the 23rd.
Action 13: all partners to save the date of 24th April 2014.
Action 14: AG to revert to MC and her team at HUVH in January to begin preparations for
the meeting.
There being no other business, MW thanks again all participants for attending and closes the
teleconference at 12.00 GMT (13.00 CET).
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