Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines - Two steps back for one leap forward

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Respiratory viruses are among the most important causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. From a vaccine viewpoint, such viruses may be divided into two principle groups-those where infection results in long-term immunity and whose continued survival requires constant mutation, and those where infection induces incomplete immunity and repeated infections are common, even with little or no mutation. Influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) typify the former and latter groups, respectively. Importantly, successful vaccines have been developed against influenza virus. However, this is not the case for RSV, despite many decades of research and several vaccine approaches. Similar to natural infection, the principle limitation of candidate RSV vaccines in humans is limited immunogenicity, characterised in part by short-term RSV-specific adaptive immunity. The specific reasons why natural RSV infection is insufficiently immunogenic in humans are unknown but circumvention of innate and adaptive immune responses are likely causes. Fundamental questions concerning RSV/host interactions remain to be addressed at both the innate and adaptive immune levels in humans in order to elucidate mechanisms of immune response circumvention. Taking the necessary steps back to generate such knowledge will provide the means to leap forward in our quest for a successful RSV vaccine. Recent developments relating to some of these questions are discussed. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of clinical virology : the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Virology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases

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