New vaccine against RSV virus in the cattle. Possible implications for the development of such a vaccine in humans

Credits: François Bianco; license: Creative Commons
Credits: François Bianco; license: Creative Commons

Institutional Communication Service

3 April 2017

The Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB, USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, USA), together with the Pirbright Institute (UK) and Humabs BioMed SA, a Swiss company active in the discovery and development of monoclonal antibodies for therapeutic purposes, have developed a new vaccine that protects calves from the respiratory syncytial bovine virus (RSV).

In calves, this virus is associated with severe respiratory disease and high mortality, for an annual cost estimated at over one billion dollars. There are vaccines on the market for cattle, but they are not very effective. This new vaccine, based on a stabilized genetically engineered protein, is able to induce complete protection.

The bovine virus is closely related to the human RSV virus. In humans, RSV can cause serious bronchiolitis and pneumonia in young children as well as in the elderly and in people with compromised immune systems. RSV infections are estimated to cause more than 250,000 human deaths annually around the world. To date there is no vaccine on the market to prevent RSV infection in humans.

For director of the IRB, Antonio Lanzavecchia, "this study, result of an international collaboration, shows how new vaccines produced by genetic engineering are superior to the traditional vaccines and are able to offer a complete protection. This vaccine, which was developed and tested in record time, may solve a longstanding problem in cattle and open new ways for the production of a similar vaccine for humans."


Image: credits François Bianco, license Creative Commons