Scripps announces novel vaccine development method against RSV

Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute recently announced the discovery of a new method for designing artificial proteins and have used it in the development of a candidate vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus.

RSV is one of the leading causes of infant mortality and shows resistance to existing vaccine development strategies. TSRI scientists hope the novel method of vaccine development provides a solution to the deadly disease.

"RSV is estimated to cause nearly seven percent of all human deaths worldwide in children ages one month to one year," William R. Schief, a researcher on the study and associate professor of immunology at TSRI, said. "Beyond that, RSV sends millions of kids to the hospital and right now there is no licensed vaccine. So we are going to push hard to see if we can make an RSV vaccine for infants and children using these new technologies."

The research team devised a special protein-folding method that creates vaccines based on the specific binding areas of a particular virus. The result was a line of vaccine proteins that showed efficacy in stimulating the creation of virus-targeting antibodies in rhesus macaques.

"This was a proof-of-principle demonstration of a technology that could be very useful against HIV, influenza and other highly variable viruses that have been difficult to stop using traditional vaccine-design strategies," Schief said. "We're also trying to improve this protein design method further and apply it to other vaccine projects including HIV and influenza vaccines."

The team is hopeful the new method can help produce a range of effective vaccines against a number of highly variable viruses, including RSV, HIV and influenza. The results of the study were published in Wednesday's issue of Nature.