New treatment fights respiratory syncytial virus

Findings published in New England Journal of Medicine

The New England Journal of Medicine published research results on Aug. 21 from a clinical trial of a drug shown to safely reduce the viral load and clinical illness of healthy adult volunteers intranasally infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center researcher Infectious Disease Specialist John DeVincenzo, MD, is lead author of this study.

RSV is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract infections in young children in the United States and worldwide. It hospitalizes 125,000 children in the United States each year, and was the cause for 1.5 million outpatient visits, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). DeVincenzo and his fellow researchers have been part of virtually every experimental therapeautic advancement, developmental pathway and antiviral therapy created to tackle the virus in the past 15 years. Learn more about his research at

"No effective antiviral treatment currently exists for RSV, which is the leading cause of severe childhood respiratory infections, and is extremely dangerous for babies and children," said DeVincenzo. "We were pleased that our study, for the first time, shows that the infection caused by the RSV virus can be effectively reduced after the infection has started. This is also the first time to prove that once we reduce the amount of virus in a patient, they begin to feel better very quickly. The next step is to explore clinical trials in naturally infected patients."

The challenge study of Gilead Sciences Inc.'s GS-5806, an investigational oral RSV fusion inhibitor, achieved primary and secondary endpoints of lower viral load, improvements in total mucus weight and symptom diary score compared to placebo. Volunteers in the study were given the oral drug after being infected with RSV using the experimental challenge model. The model is based on a clinical isolate from an infant hospitalized with RSV bronchiolitis which can be safely used to infect adults, and that was developed by DeVincenzo in 2007 to test proof-of-concept antivirals.


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