Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization -
International Vaccine Centre

Pathogenesis and vaccine development for respiratory syncytial virus and parainfluenzavirus-3

Project Leader: Sylvia van den Hurk

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of bronchiolitis and viral pneumonia in infants and young children, resulting in the hospitalization of up to 2 percent of children in their first year of life. RSV is second to malaria as a cause of mortality due to a single pathogen in infants between 1 month and 1 year of age. Human parainfluenzaviruses (hPIVs) are second only to RSV as causes of lower respiratory tract illness and hospitalization. Vaccines against RSV, hPIV32 and the related hPIV-1, 2, and 4 are currently not available but are urgently needed.

As the factors contributing to the severity of RSV disease in infants and elderly are still not completely understood we are studying age- and genetics-dependent differences in the clinical disease, lung pathology and innate and adaptive immune responses to RSV in newborn and older animals. We have developed a novel vaccine candidate for RSV, which is safe and effective in preclinical studies and induces long lasting immune responses. Importantly, this RSV vaccine was found to induce robust immune responses in newborn animals, and to be efficacious in the context of maternal immunization. The RSV vaccine is expected to enter phase 1 clinical trials in 2016 in partnership with the Pan-Provincial Vaccine Enterprise Inc. The current focus is on adding a PIV3 antigen to this vaccine, and testing this combination vaccine in various animal models. Furthermore, we are working on the mechanism of action of the vaccine components, as well as optimization for mucosal delivery.


  • Identify age-dependent and genetic factors contributing to clinical disease caused by RSV
  • Develop and characterize a RSV-PIV3 vaccine