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RSV can increase the risk of asthma, UT Southwestern researchers find

DALLAS June 28, 2004 A viral respiratory infection common in children increases the risk of developing asthma, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have reported.

The study, published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, is the first to show a link between respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, infection and asthma in mice. A related study, also in mice, suggests that a medication neutralizing the virus could decrease children's chances of developing asthma.

RSV is the leading cause of viral respiratory infections in infants and children worldwide.

"We have suspected a connection between asthma and RSV for a long time, but there has been no scientific evidence confirming this theory until now," said Dr. Octavio Ramilo, associate professor of pediatrics in the Cancer Immunobiology Center and the study's senior author. "RSV is a very common virus and one of the most frequent respiratory illnesses. Most babies will get over the infection, but some develop severe wheezing and other permanent asthma-like symptoms."

Half of all babies get an RSV infection within the first year of their life and by age 3 practically all have had at least one RSV infection, said Dr. Ramilo. About 10 percent of high-risk and young infants with RSV infections will develop severe bronchitis and require hospitalization.

Earlier studies have found that treatment with an anti-RSV neutralizing antibody significantly reduced hospitalization rates in high-risk infants. UT Southwestern researchers tested the medication on mice and demonstrated that the anti-RSV antibody not only prevented the acute severe form of bronchitis but also prevented the long-term complications of the disease. The findings were published in the journal, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

"These findings have enormous implications," said Dr. Hasan Jafri, assistant professor of pediatrics who is lead author on the Infectious Diseases stud
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Contact: Staishy Bostick Siem
staishy.siem@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
28-Jun-2004


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