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Soon, vaccine for a common respiratory disease

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a virus that causes respiratory tract infections. It is a major cause of lower respiratory tract infections and hospital visits during infancy and childhood. It causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages and can become life threatening for children. Adults especially the elderly are also susceptible to this disease.It causes flu-like symptoms in healthy adults and is estimated to cause over 100 000 deaths yearly worldwide.

RSV is highly contagious and can spread through droplets containing the virus when someone coughs or sneezes. Till now; there is no vaccine available for it.

But in an important finding, the teams of Research Director Sarah Butcher (Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki) and Professor Ari Helenius (ETH Zurich) have now solved the three-dimensional structure of RSV and this can pave the path for developing a vaccine for this fatal illness in the near future.

"The structural model helps us to understand how infectious viruses are formed. This information can be useful in the intelligent design of vaccines" said the researcher Lassi Liljeroos.

"In addition, we observed that the fusion protein on the surface is in two different forms. The fusion protein is responsible for attaching the virus to human cells and invading them. This is an important finding because the fusion protein is the key molecule in developing therapeutic antibodies to the virus. "

(Photo credit: Sarah Butcher Lab, University of Helsinki)

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