Pfizer Inc. ( PFE ) said that it has started a Phase 1/2 trial of its respiratory syncytial virus or RSV vaccine candidate in healthy adult volunteers. RSV is a common respiratory virus that affects the lungs and airways, with significant impact on young children and older adults. The highest risk of severe outcome from RSV occurs in the first months of life.
Currently available prophylactic treatments for RSV are limited for use in high risk young children and infants, including very premature infants. If successful, Pfizer’s investigational RSV vaccine could help protect young infants through the immunity created following vaccination of pregnant women.
The maternal vaccine candidate is intended to raise RSV neutralizing antibody levels in pregnant women who then pass these protective antibodies to their unborn child and provide immunity during the early months of an infant’s life. Pfizer is also advancing a maternal vaccine candidate against Group B streptococcus (GBS), currently in Phase 1/2 trials.
For older adults, RSV is the second leading cause of moderate to severe respiratory illness, following influenza. The risk of serious infection increases with age and for those with chronic heart or lung disease or a weakened immune system.5 There is no specific treatment for RSV and currently no licensed vaccine to prevent the disease.
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