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Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

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NIAID’s Role in RSV Research

NIAID conducts and supports basic research on RSV to improve our understanding of the virus and how it causes disease, as well as factors in animals and humans that affect susceptibility to RSV infection. Scientists in NIAID labs and in universities and medical research centers across the United States work together to translate this knowledge into new, safe, and effective ways to treat and prevent RSV.

Therapeutic Research

NIAID funds several research activities to evaluate potential new therapies for RSV. For example, a recent study supported in part by NIAID unveiled a possible role of the anti-influenza drug oseltamivir in treating RSV infection. The study, published in the March 2007 issue of the Journal of Immunology, found that the drug decreased RSV-induced weight loss and inhibited RSV clearance in mice, suggesting that it may be effective in moderating RSV symptoms in humans.

Scientists in the NIAID Laboratory of Allergic Diseases have developed a mouse model of a disease similar to human RSV, called pneumonia virus of mice (PVM). Studying PVM, researchers have discovered that inflammation is an important part of severe RSV disease, which suggests that using antivirals together with anti-inflammatory therapies to treat severe RSV may ease discomfort and help patients recover more quickly.

Mouse Model Suggests New Treatment Strategy for Severe RSV

Prevention Research

Scientists in the NIAID Laboratory of Infectious Diseases (LID) were instrumental in the development of palivizumab (brand name Synagis), which is currently the only preventive medicine available for RSV. LID researchers are currently working with industry on the development of candidate nasal-spray RSV vaccines. A nasal spray not only provides direct stimulation of local immunity in the nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs, it also promises to make administering the vaccine easier and less painful than using a needle.

Additionally, NIAID supports research to develop a vaccine that would help provide protection from RSV and human parainfluenza virus types 1 and 3, which also are major causes of respiratory disease in infants and young children. Researchers plan to evaluate several versions of this vaccine for immunogenicity (the ability to provoke an immune response) and advance the most promising candidates into studies of safety and effectiveness in non-human primates.

Life-Saving Prevention Therapy Has Roots in NIAID Research

NIAID Lab Developing Intranasal RSV Vaccines

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Last Updated March 15, 2010