Ross’ research focuses on development of a broadly reactive flu vaccine—one that will protect people against multiple strains of seasonal and pandemic influenza, unlike the current seasonal vaccine that triggers individual immune response memory to fight against a predicted strain. With support from Sanofi Pasteur, the world’s largest manufacturer of influenza vaccines, Ross’ team developed a consensus-building tool that isolated the most prevalent strains and those likely to emerge in the future. Flu vaccines created using Ross’ Computationally Optimized Broadly Reactive Antigen, or COBRA, platform are expected to undergo clinical trials beginning in 2018, with collaboration from the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership.
Those trials will bring long-term cohort trails to Athens, where Ross will test both conventional flu vaccines (containing one or two strains of flu) and universal flu vaccines built using his COBRA technology, which was licensed by Sanofi in 2013. The trials will be offered to adults ranging in ages 18 to 80, to help Ross and his colleagues better understand why the vaccines work well in some people, but not others.
Ross is also currently working with GeoVax Labs, Inc., an Atlanta-based vaccine development company, to create a Zika vaccine that prevents the virus infection.