The international study compares MEDI-493, a monoclonal antibody already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat respiratory synctial virus, or RSV, to the more potent MEDI-524, says Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, chief of the MCG Section of Neonatology and a principal investigator.
"A casual sniffle for adults can be devastating for your premature baby," says Dr. Bhatia. In at-risk babies, the therapies under study can help prevent RSV from quickly progressing from the sniffles to a severe respiratory infection. "Most mothers will tell you, 'My baby is coughing.' That's the first clue. The next thing they know, their baby is not breathing," says Dr. Bhatia.
RSV is a common virus that is a yearlong threat in some parts of the country and a fall-to-spring threat in the Augusta area, said Dr. Chantrapa Bunyapen, MCG neonatologist and a study investigator. The Augusta season peaks in December and January.
By age 2, most children have been infected with the virus that is easily spread by human contact. Since the body doesn't develop a memory for the virus, multiple infections are common. But a single infection can be deadly in a vulnerable baby, Dr. Bhatia says.
Study targets include babies six months and younger born five or more weeks premature and babies with chronic lung disease often a result of premature birth under age 2, says Joan Holloway, study coordinator.
Over the next few months, MCG will enroll as many of these babies as possible in the study in which they will get monthly doses of MEDI-493 or the more potent MEDI-524, or Numax