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Mouse Model Suggests New Treatment Strategy for Severe RSV

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of lower respiratory infections in young children and the elderly. Until an effective vaccine is found, NIAID researchers are looking for better ways to treat the symptoms and ease the suffering of severe RSV disease.

lung tissue from mice infected with pneumonia
Microscopic view of lung tissue from mice infected with pneumonia virus of mice, or PVM, a disease similar to human respiratory syncytial virus. The mouse tissue shows profound inflammation and an abnormal amount of fluid (in pink) collecting in the airspaces.
Credit: NIAID


A research team led by Helene Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Inflammation Immunobiology Section of the Laboratory of Allergic Diseases, has developed a mouse model of a disease that is very similar to human RSV, called pneumonia virus of mice (PVM). Studying PVM, Dr. Rosenberg and her colleagues discovered that inflammation is an important part of severe RSV disease. Inflammation in the lungs continues even after the virus has stopped replicating (or recreating itself).

Antiviral therapy has been used to stop viral replication, but in the case of severe RSV infection, this type of therapy alone has little impact on the symptoms of disease. Dr. Rosenberg and her colleagues suggest that treatment for RSV should include antiviral therapy (to stop viral replication) together with an anti-inflammatory (to stop inflammation).

Their research could one day be translated to the bedsides of patients currently suffering from severe RSV disease. It may also contribute to the development of new therapies, by providing new insights into how RSV and other severe respiratory viruses cause disease.

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Last Updated December 04, 2008