Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In a first, scientists used computer simulations to identify the vaccines most likely to be effective against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the most common cause of infant severe pneumonia worldwide.

Lisa White in front of a computer describing math models

30 November 2016 (Bangkok) – In a first, scientists used computer simulations to identify the vaccines most likely to be effective against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the most common cause of infant severe pneumonia worldwide.

Although there is no vaccine yet available for RSV, a viral infection that annually kills up to 200,000 children under five globally, a study published online today in Vaccine suggests that the most effective vaccine would be one that stops RSV from spreading in the general population rather than one that completely prevented disease in RSV-infected individuals.

“This approach radically alters the way we decide which promising vaccine to develop. Choosing which new vaccines to develop from many possible candidates is an expensive process. As using mathematical modelling helps do that more efficiently, we expect that the pharmaceutical industry will use this approach more and more in the future,” says study leader Prof. Lisa White, of the University of Oxford, and Head of Mathematical and Economic MODelling (MAEMOD) at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok, Thailand.

“We used mathematical modelling simulations to find the best choices among candidate anti-RSV vaccines, and were surprised to find that the most effective vaccines would not provide solid immunity to reinfection but would reduce the infectiousness of infected individuals, thereby protecting the community at large by reducing the amount of virus in circulation,” explained study co-author Dr Wirichada Pan-Ngum, Deputy Head of Mathematical Modelling at MORU.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the study, a collaboration between researchers linked to the universities of Oxford, Warwick and Manchester in the UK and Mahidol University, Thailand, in partnership with global vaccine developer GSK-Biologicals, Belgium, examined which properties RSV vaccines under development would need to have to be most effective in preventing RSV in young children.

The researchers were linked by a new network of mathematical modelers based in the Tropics (TDMODNET). The network is a highly innovative environment which nurtures talented mathematicians from Asia and Africa. “We have proven that true world-class innovation can come from a South-South collaboration of scientists,” said study contributor Dr Tim Kinyanjui, University of Manchester (UK).

Unlike vaccines that currently control common childhood diseases, new vaccines must target diseases with complex and poorly understood immunity. These diseases nevertheless cause a huge amount of suffering and death.

“RSV is the most important cause of infant severe lower respiratory tract disease worldwide, estimated to be responsible for 3 million hospital admissions annually. Occurring in seasonal outbreaks, RSV causes an inflammatory immune response and that constricts airflow, with many children developing pneumonia or bronchiolitis,” says study co-author and major RSV researcher Prof. James Nokes, of the University of Warwick and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)/Wellcome Trust in Kilifi, Kenya.

“New vaccines demand new development pathways and this research is the first to use computer simulation to support the process,” said Prof. Nokes.

Reference

Predicting the relative impacts of maternal and neonatal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine target product profiles: A consensus modelling approach. Pan-Ngum W, Kinyanjui T, Kiti M, Taylor S, Toussaint JF, Saralamba S, Van Effelterre T, Nokes DJ and White LJ. DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.10.073, Online publication: 14 Dec 2016, in Vaccine, Volume 35, issue 2 (2016)l

Similar stories

MORU hepatitis work focusses on preventing mother-to-child transmission, high-at-risk populations, and remote communities

MORU Tropical Health Network researchers in Southeast Asia study various aspects of hepatitis B and C, infections that can lead to chronic liver diseases, and complications like liver cancer or cirrhosis. Researchers at MOCRU work on treatment for hepatitis C, a frequent opportunistic infection in HIV patients. MORU’s Clinical Pharmacology conducts two trials on possible treatments of hepatitis C. Hepatitis B is frequently transmitted from mother to child at birth, and SMRU researchers study mothers’ knowledge and behaviour, as well as prevention.

Incomplete reporting of COVID-19 disease severity criteria compromises meta-analysis

Patients affected by COVID-19 should be treated according to the severity of their disease. However, not all key national or international organisations define severity in the same way. This imprecision in severity assessment compromises the validity of some therapeutic recommendations. Using individual patient data would better guide and improve therapeutic recommendations for COVID-19.

Field evaluation of EasyScan GO: a digital malaria microscopy device

Microscopic examination of Giemsa-stained blood films is key to quantifying and detecting malaria parasites but there can be difficulties in ensuring both a high-quality manual reading and inter-reader reliability. The EasyScan GO was developed as a potential solution to this, a microscopy device using machine-learning-based image analysis for automated parasite detection and quantification.

Enhanced vaccination against Japanese encephalitis virus could reduce encephalitis prevalence by one third in SE Asia

Encephalitis is a worldwide public health issue, with a substantially high burden among children in Southeast Asia. A large study of the causes of childhood encephalitis in SE Asia suggests that enhanced and effective vaccination against the Japanese encephalitis virus alone could reduce encephalitis prevalence by one third.

Congratulations to Professor Sir David Warrell, appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George!

David Warrell, MORU founding director, has been appointed by the Queen ‘Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to global Health Research and Clinical Practice’. Please join us in congratulating Sir David on receiving this richly deserved high honour!

Laos’ first Pint of Science: warty newts, COVID, AI for Instagram, and more!

Organised by a grass-root community of thousands of scientists across the world, Pint of Science 2022 allows researchers in 25 countries and over 800 cities to share their latest findings with lay folk in interesting, informal settings. Lao PDR joined the global Pint of Science family on Monday 9 May, when the first-ever Pint of Science Laos kicked off!