Wellness Wednesday: Upstate study could lead to protection for babies against RSV

Wellness Wednesday

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s a common, contagious, cold-like respiratory virus. It’s nothing new, but it can be severe and hospitals are seeing cases even earlier than normal.

It’s called RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus.

The typical season for Central New York begins in November and lasts until about February or March. This year, doctors at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital are already treating cases.

Doctors like Professor of Pediatrics Joseph Domachowske are looking for a solution.

Upstate Medical University is enrolling babies in a study, which could change the landscape of RSV.

“Every winter, our hospital is filled with babies.”

dr. Joseph Domachowske

He tells NewsChannel 9, RSV is a nasty, flu-like cold babies are at high risk for within the first 6 months of life, especially premies. It presents with a nose that runs like crazy and a cough.

Higher risk kids [premies] and very young kids in the first three months of life often will end up hospitalized because the virus goes from their upper respiratory tract to their lungs.

Dr. Joseph Domachowske

Upstate researchers are looking at a monoclonal antibody, or one made in a lab specifically designed to fight RSV. They’ve been successful with extreme premies, but it’s not a perfect solution.

“They [babies] get monthly injections and it prevents them from being hospitalized but monthly injections is not terribly convenient,” said Domachowske.

Domachowske explains the treatment never broadened to include full-term newborns.

However, with this clinical trial, they’re getting closer to something more practical.

“This new antibody, which is a much longer half-life, has given us a single injection in clinical trials and it lasts about five months, which is about how long our RSV season lasts,” he said.

If enough babies enroll, the one-time shot could become a reality and a game-changer.

It’s just a one-time deal for their first RSV season. So, as soon as we start to see RSV creeping along in our community, we can bring kids in as long as they’re still in that first year of life, give them the single protection, single-shot protection and expect that they will be protected against this.

Dr. Domachowske

Domachowske thinks within the next two to three years an antibody could be available for newborns.

Upstate is enrolling babies through October. They’re looking for babies who are in their first year of life and are generally healthy, not pre-term.

Click here to learn more or call the RSV Research Number: 315-706-5636.

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