RSV-vaccine developed by Amsterdam UMC spin-off in Immunisation Programme

April 24, 2024

The Dutch national government has decided to include vaccination against the RS virus in the Vaccination Program. Worldwide, the RS-virus is the second leading cause of death in infants. It was researchers at Amsterdam UMC who discovered the antibody that protects against this life-threatening virus for newborns. The European Commission/EMA issued positive advice for this antibody drug, called Nirsevimab, in 2022. Babies are expected to be able to receive a vaccine as of 2025.

The RS virus

RSV is a common cold virus, of which the symptoms are nose cold and coughing. RSV forms no serious risk to healthy adults but is a risk for (premature) newborns, infants, and children with a congenital heart defect or Down’s syndrome. Every year, 150 to 200 babies with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) end up in the ICU in the Netherlands.

The Health Council (Gezondheidsraad) recommends that all children in their first year of life be offered protection against RSV through the National Vaccination Program in the short term. The council prefers to administer antibodies to children, instead of pregnant women, because more children can be protected this way.

Research from Amsterdam UMC

The development of the vaccine is the result of research by immunologist and professor Cell Biology Hergen Spits at Amsterdam UMC. His technology was used by the Amsterdam UMC spin-off AIMM, which was founded with the help of IXA, to develop an antibody to protect against the RS virus. A promising RSV antibody was isolated in 2007 and licensed to MedImmune/Astra Zeneca, which ultimately resulted in the approval of the vaccine called Nirsevimab (Beyfortus) by the EMA at the end of 2022.

Saving healthcare costs

What is also striking is that the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport notes that the use of this new vaccination saves €16 million in healthcare costs every year.