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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2003 Feb;22(2 Suppl):S94-9.

Clinical experience with respiratory syncytial virus vaccines.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection is at times associated with life-threatening lower respiratory tract illness in infancy. Severe infection during the first year of life may be an important risk factor or indicator for the development of asthma in early childhood. Severe infections primarily occur in healthy infants, and young infants and children with specific risk factors. However, RSV causes respiratory infections in all age groups. Indeed it is now recognized that RSV disease is responsible for significant morbidity and mortality in the geriatric population. RSV infection remains difficult to treat, and prevention is a worldwide goal. For this reason there has been an intensive effort to develop an effective and safe RSV vaccine. Initial infection with RSV affords limited protection to reinfection, yet repeated episodes decrease the risk for lower respiratory tract illness. In the 20 years from 1960 to 1980, trials of several candidate RSV vaccines failed to attain the desired safety and protection against natural infection. Some vaccine types either failed to elicit immunogenicity, as with the live subcutaneous vaccine, or resulted in exaggerated disease on natural exposure to the virus, as with the formalin-inactivated (FI) type. Currently vaccine candidates are being developed based on the molecular virology of RSV. Recent formulations of candidate RSV vaccines have focused on subunit vaccines [such as purified fusion protein (PFP)], subunit vaccines combined with nonspecific immune activating adjuvants, live attenuated vaccines (including cold passaged, temperature-sensitive or cpts mutants), genetically engineered live attenuated vaccines and polypeptide vaccines.

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