Protecting at-risk children from a severe respiratory disease



Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a leading cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children less than one year old Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV). RSV infection can be life-threatening, especially for babies born prematurely or with health problems such as chronic lung disease or congenital heart disease Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV). An effective means to prevent severe RSV disease was needed.


IRP investigators Robert M. Chanock, M.D., Brian Murphy, M.D., and colleagues showed that giving anti-RSV antibodies to animals protected them from RSV infection. The researchers then developed a monoclonal antibody that neutralized RSV in animal models. The pharmaceutical company MedImmune licensed the monoclonal antibody, further developed it for human use, and conducted clinical trials showing that it could protect high-risk infants from severe RSV disease.


Following FDA approval in 1998, MedImmune marketed the RSV antibody Synagis® for prevention of severe RSV disease in high-risk infants. Monthly administration of Synagis during RSV season reduces RSV-related hospitalizations by an estimated 45 to 55 percent Revised Indications for the Use of Palivizumab and Respiratory Syncytial Virus Immune Globulin Intravenous for the Prevention of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections. Because RSV is an important pediatric pathogen and an increasingly recognized cause of severe respiratory disease in chronically ill adults and the elderly, RSV vaccine research and development continues to be a high priority in the IRP.


Prince GA, Hemming VG, Horswood RL, Chanock RM. (1985). Immunoprophylaxis and immunotherapy of respiratory syncytial virus infection in the cotton rat. Virus Res. 3(3), 193-206.

Murphy BR, Sotnikov A, Paradiso PR, Hildreth SW, Jenson AB, Baggs RB, Lawrence L, Zubak JJ, Chanock RM, Beeler JA, et al. (1989). Immunization of cotton rats with the fusion (F) and large (G) glycoproteins of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) protects against RSV challenge without potentiating RSV disease. Vaccine. 7(6), 533-40.

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This page was last updated on Friday, August 11, 2023