Experimental RSV vaccine shows success in mouse model
In the United States, RSV infection is the most common cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children less than one year old. The virus, the most common cause of hospitalization in children less than five years old, is responsible for the second-greatest number of deaths in children aged one month to one year at seven percent; malaria is the only disease that supersedes it.
The candidate drug, developed by scientists at the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health, shows promise to be the first vaccine against the virus.
Researchers developed the vaccine based on the first sighting of the RSV protein in atomic-level detail, before it bonded with a human cell. With this view, VRC researchers were able to find vulnerable areas of the protein, which could potentially be attacked by a human antibody.
Research began to develop stable variants that could produce a strong antibody response to protect against an RSV infection. The research team developed more than 100 variants, 3 of which proved successful in a study with mice and macaques to protect against RSV infection. Plans to conduct early-stage human clinical trials are underway.
"Many common diseases of childhood are now vaccine-preventable, but a vaccine against RSV infection has eluded us for decades," NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci said. "This work marks a major step forward. Not only does the experimental vaccine developed by our scientists elicit strong RSV-neutralizing activity in animals, but, more broadly, this technique of using structural information to inform vaccine design is being applied to other viral diseases, including HIV/AIDS."