One step closer to vaccine for common respiratory disease

June 17, 2013
One step closer to vaccine for common respiratory disease
The RS virus causes flu-like symptoms in healthy adults, but becomes life-threatening in young children and the elderly. The 3-D structure has been now solved by the Sarah Butcher Lab in the University of Helsinki. Credit: Sarah Butcher Lab, University of Helsinki

Young children and the elderly are especially susceptible to respiratory syncytial virus. The three-dimensional structure of respiratory syncytial virus has been solved by an international team from Finland and Switzerland.

RSV is a common cause of respiratory infection, but there is no vaccine available. It causes flu-like symptoms in healthy adults, but becomes life-threatening in young children and the elderly. It is estimated to cause over 100 000 deaths yearly worldwide.

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.

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

RSV is related to measles and mumps viruses. All three viruses parasitize human cells, stealing parts of the cell membrane to use as their own. In RSV the resulting virus membranes look likes tubes and spheres. We could show that the virus' controls this shape.

"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 to the virus. "

Explore further: RSV study shows potential for vaccine strategies to protect babies

More information: Architecture of respiratory syncytial virus revealed by electron cryotomography, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1309070110

Related Stories

Study reveals clues to childhood respiratory virus

February 13, 2013

New Vanderbilt-led research published in the Feb. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has identified the relatively unknown human metapneumovirus (MPV) as the second most common cause of severe bronchiolitis in ...

Recommended for you

Cellphone data can track infectious diseases

August 20, 2015

Tracking mobile phone data is often associated with privacy issues, but these vast datasets could be the key to understanding how infectious diseases are spread seasonally, according to a study published in the Proceedings ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.