Researchers solve failed RSV vax mystery

Researchers have finally figured out why a respiratory syncytial virus vaccine used in 1966 to innoculate children against the infection failed and caused severe respiratory disease. The team, led by Johns Hopkins Children's Center, says antibodies in the vax would not bind to the virus, and thus failed to trigger an immune response. Trials conducted with mice revealed that the vaccine produced a stronger response after being infused with a substance that produced antibodies better equipped to bind to the virus and neutralize it. The results of the initial innoculation attempt effectively halted research on killed-virus vaccines, but these new findings could be the kickstart needed to get that research going again.

"We have found the root cause of the problem, and in doing so we have uncovered clues that will help us design even safer and more effective vaccines in the future," says senior investigator Fernando Polack, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at Hopkins Children's.

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