FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

NIH study points to vaccine for RSV

A recent study revealed the vulnerable structure of the respiratory syncytial virus, a leading cause of hospitalizations in children under age one, and may give scientists clues to develop a vaccine.

Scientists with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health, determined that the shape of a critical RSV component called the fusion glycoprotein is vulnerable to neutralizing antibodies before it interacts with human cells. Researchers were not previously aware of a highly vulnerable site at the tip of the pre-fusion form of the fusion glycoprotein.

By solving the structure and revealing the site of antibody vulnerability, scientists can use the new information to design vaccines meant to elicit antibodies that target the top of the pre-fusion glycoprotein. The insight could lead to faster development of new therapies to treat or prevent severe RSV disease in infants.

Most RSV infections occur before the age of three. While the majority of children recover quickly from RSV with symptoms like runny nose, cough and sneezing, the virus can cause serious disease in young infants. There are between 75,000 and 125,000 RSV-related hospitalizations among children under the age of one in the U.S. each year.

RSV infection accounts for approximately seven percent of deaths worldwide among children between the age of one month and one year.

The scientists published the results in a recent issue of Science.

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