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RSV study shows potential for vaccine strategies to protect babies
Date:11/15/2012

years of research. However, several promising candidate vaccines are in the development pipeline that could be given to older children and adults. In the absence of a vaccine for babies, an alternative would be to immunise parents and older siblings of babies who are up to six months old during the period when the virus is most active.

This is known as a 'cocoon' strategy as it does not directly inoculate the baby but instead focuses on those around the infant who are most likely to pass on infection.

Alternatively or in addition, the short term specific immunity that mothers give to their newborn might be extended by vaccination of pregnant women to boost their immunity to RSV, thus increasing the duration of protection in the infant and delaying RSV infection.

Professor Graham Medley from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick said: "RSV causes more respiratory disease and death in children than any other respiratory virus.

"It is very common world-wide, and people are infected repeatedly through life - if you have a 'community virus' in December in the UK, it is probably RSV.

"Children under six months old are at the greatest risk of death from RSV, and this is the first study to clarify why such young children are at risk - is it because they are so young, or is it because infection at this age will be their first infection?

"The answer is that it is because they are so young.

"This means that if we can protect children until they are older before they become infected, then they will be at a lower risk of dying following infection from RSV.

"The really exciting implication is that we don't have to vaccinate the baby to protect the baby. Instead we could vaccinate family members to stop them infecting the child the cocoon strategy.

"Or we could even consider vaccinating all school-children to try and reduce the amount of virus circulating around whole the community."

The study, The Natura
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Contact: Anna Blackaby
a.blackaby@warwick.ac.uk
44-024-765-75910
University of Warwick
Source:Eurekalert

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