Crucell starts universal RSV vaccine programme

The programme is the company’s latest move towards the commercialisation of a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine

Dutch biopharmaceutical company Crucell NV has started a discovery programme leading to the development and commercialisation of a universal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine.

The RSV vaccine will be designed to prevent severe infections with the most common RSV strains in infants and the elderly. This discovery programme is part of the existing strategic collaboration with Johnson & Johnson, through its subsidiary Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, signed in September 2009, to develop innovative products, including antibodies for influenza prevention and treatment.

RSV is the most important cause of viral lower respiratory illness in infants and children. RSV-induced disease is the last of the major paediatric diseases for which no preventive vaccine is available. Current prevention in developed countries is based on the administration of an RSV-neutralising antibody, which is given to high-risk infants, in particular premature newborns. RSV also induces severe disease in immuno-compromised adults and elderly with weak immune systems, for whom the costly antibody is not available.

‘Crucell is delighted to work on developing a vaccine against RSV”, said Ronald Brus, Crucell ceo. “A vaccine that prevents severe RSV infections and death in infants will be a tremendous advance for the paediatric vaccine field. We expect that an RSV vaccine will be the next frontier in children’s vaccines for inclusion in the routine immunization of newborns.’