St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital recently announced that it has signed a licensing agreement granting Serum Institute of India exclusive rights to complete the development of the hospital’s respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, vaccine.
Through this agreement, Serum Institute of India will be able to design and conduct clinical trials investigating the intranasal SeVRSV vaccine and commercialize the vaccine in South America, Africa and much of Asia, according to a press release.
“RSV remains a serious threat to infants worldwide during their first year of life and to anyone, including pediatric cancer patients, whose immune response has been weakened by illness or age,” James R. Downing, MD, president and CEO at St. Jude, said in the release. “We are pleased that Serum’s staff and leadership have recognized the life-saving potential of this vaccine. We look forward to working closely with them to make this vaccine accessible around the globe.”
RSV is a common cause of lower respiratory infections, affecting as many as 43 million children younger than 5 years of age worldwide each year, the release said. About 10% of these patients may require hospitalization.
Julia Hurwitz, PhD
Source: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Julia Hurwitz, PhD,
of the department of infectious disease at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, told Infectious Disease News that the SeVRSV vaccine has been in development for more than 10 years. The vaccine is composed of a mouse parainfluenza virus type 1 that researchers modified to carry an RSV gene, according to the release. Because the mouse parainfluenza virus type 1 is similar to the human parainfluenza virus type 1 — a common cause of croup in children — researchers designed the vaccine to protect against serious infections caused by both RSV and croup. The vaccine, which is one of dozens currently in development for RSV worldwide, appeared to be safe and effective during preclinical trials, the release said.
“The vaccine could potentially prevent approximately 30 million lower respiratory virus infections each year and about 3 million hospitalizations globally,” Hurwitz said. “The children at St. Jude are particularly vulnerable to RSV infections and disease. We would like to remove this threat from our children and all children worldwide.”
According to the press release, Serum Institute of India is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world. The company supplies WHO-accredited diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b, bacille Calmette-Guérin, poliovirus, measles, mumps and rubella vaccines that are used in national immunization programs in about 140 countries. An estimated 65% of children worldwide have received at least one vaccine manufactured by the company.
“The Serum Institute of India is skilled at developing, licensing and distributing vaccines globally,” Hurwitz said. “They have the capacity to advance this vaccine to licensure and to distribute the vaccine to essentially all of the world's children.” – by Stephanie Viguers
Disclosures: Hurwitz reports no relevant financial disclosures. Infectious Disease News was unable to confirm Downing’s financial disclosures at the time of publication.