Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection is a major cause of severe respiratory disease in infants and young children worldwide and also forms a serious threat for the elderly. Vaccination could significantly relieve the burden of the RSV disease. However, unfortunately there is no licensed vaccine available so far. This is partly due to disastrous outcome of a clinical trial of formalin-inactivated RSV (FI-RSV) in children in 1960s; leading to enhanced respiratory disease upon natural infection. These findings contributed significantly to the delay of RSV vaccine development. Other key obstacles in development of RSV vaccine such as a peak of severe disease at 2–3 months of age, challenging biochemical behavior of key vaccine antigens and dependence on animal models that may not truly reflect human disease processes. These challenges could be overcome through maternal immunization, structure-based engineering of vaccine antigens, the design of a novel platform for safe infant immunization, and the development of improved animal models. Currently, several vaccine candidates are in pre-clinical and clinical trials targeting the diverse age groups; young children or older adults from the infection or can reduce incidence, mortality and morbidity among the RSV infected individuals.
Part of the book: The Burden of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection in the Young