New Research Provides Hope in the Search for a Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine- Part II

This story is Part II of a series on respiratory syncytial virus vaccines. Here we describe the groundbreaking research that is both answering questions about the past vaccine failure and mapping a path towards the production of successful vaccines.

Respiratory syncytial virus is one of the leading causes of death for infants globally, and a safe vaccine has yet to be approved for use. However, the long hunt for a vaccine may soon be over. The new structure-based vaccine technology behind the recent development of such vaccines holds great promise. In Part I of this series we discussed the magnitude of the disease and severity of its consequences, and here in Part II we discuss the science that underlies the recent advances in search for an RSV vaccine.

Until recently, respiratory syncytial virus has posed obstacles to the technology that has been successful in producing functional vaccines that have succeeded in mitigating the spread and severity of many other infectious diseases. While the search for a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus has eluded scientists and vaccine manufacturers for decades, just as of recently there are finally some promising vaccine candidates in phase 3 trials. The new structure-based vaccine design technology behind their development will have lifesaving consequences, as respiratory syncytial virus is the leading cause of hospitalizations in children under five, and infants and the elderly are particularly susceptible.

Just over 55 years ago in 1965, a small vaccine trial for respiratory syncytial virus resulted in increased rates of hospitalization and the deaths of two infants from a treatment group of only 23. The disastrous consequences of the trial stunted any further development of an RSV vaccine through the turn of the century. Recent advances in structural vaccine technology mean that vaccines may soon be available, even for young children.


Originally published on Forbes on May 3, 2022

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© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.