Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. 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

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

RECOVERY trial finds aspirin does not improve survival for patients hospitalised with COVID-19

The RECOVERY trial was established as a randomised clinical trial to test a range of potential treatments for patients hospitalised with COVID-19. Patients with COVID-19 are at increased risk of blood clots forming in their blood vessels, particularly in the lungs. Between November 2020 and March 2021, the RECOVERY trial included nearly 15,000 patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in an assessment of the effects of aspirin, which is widely used to reduce blood clotting in other diseases. There was no significant difference in the primary endpoint of 28-day mortality

The COVID-19 International Modelling Consortium (CoMo Consortium) enters a new phase

Created in March 2020 to assist policymakers to make use of existing evidence in mathematical and epidemiological models to inform strategies for minimising the impact of COVID-19, the CoMo Consortium brings together mathematical modellers, epidemiologists, health economists and public health experts from more than 40 countries across Africa, Asia and South and North America.

ASM Editor in conversation with Nick White

Malaria continues to be a major killer, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations with more than 500,000 deaths per year, most of them African children. Emergence of resistance to antimalarial drugs is major public health issue. American Society for Microbiology Editor Dr Cesar Arias discusses with Professor Sir Nick White the latest information on this rapidly evolving field.

New Pandemic Sciences Centre at the University of Oxford

The University of Oxford announces the launch of a centre of global research collaboration and excellence, the Pandemic Sciences Centre. The need for partnership between academic excellence, industry and public health organisations is one of the key lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic. This centre will unite disciplines, and sectors, to build agile, equitable partnerships that can tackle complex problems and respond to pandemic threats at any time.

AMR and scrub typhus among Chiangrai Unit's research priorities

Which infections are most common in the Chiangrai region? How should we treat them and how can we improve diagnostic? Which strategies are most effective in directing antibiotic treatment? Blog by Carlo Perrone, research physician based at the Chiang Rai Clinical Research Unit in Chiangrai, Thailand.

Arjen Dondorp, Peter Horby and Rose McGready elected Academy of Medical Sciences Fellows

"Although it is hard to look beyond the pandemic right now," says President of the Academy of Medical Sciences Professor Dame Anne Johnson, "I want to stress how important it is that the Academy Fellowship represents the widest diversity of biomedical and health sciences. The greatest health advances rely on the findings of many types of research, and on multidisciplinary teams and cross-sector and global collaboration."