A vaccine for childhood respiratory viral infections is a step closer after a University of Queensland immunopathology specialist was awarded a prestigious Children’s Hospital Foundation grant.
Mater Research Institute-UQ scientist Dr Sumaira Hasnain has dedicated the last 13 years to researching treatment options for the most common chronic diseases.
Dr Hasnain said the Mary McConnel Career Boost grant would fund several experiments and accelerate the development of her proposed vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“The vaccine is formulated on a protein found in white blood cells that can be modulated to improve how the virus reacts in the lungs,” Dr Hasnain said.
“We are currently trialling how to modulate this protein and develop a therapy around it.
“There are currently no effective treatment methods for RSV beyond the general management of symptoms, so the research we’ve been developing could offer the first real solution.
“We intend to get this vaccine to the commercialisation stage and then out into the clinics, where it can make the biggest impact in paediatric health.”
The mother of two children under five is on a mission to help the more than 210,000 children affected by the condition each year.
“Three per cent of infants infected with RSV will go on to develop bronchiolitis and pneumonia, while four thousand are hospitalised because of it,” she said.
“This is a common infection that happens in childhood and can even lead to asthma.”
The vaccine could also help the Australian health care system save $50 million in annual treatment costs.
Grant recipients are stewarded by a female role model across their research endeavours.
Dr Hasnain has been connected with prominent UQ Child Health Research Centre researcher, Professor Claire Wainwright.
“A good mentor has the ability to inspire and guide you in the right way, and I know I can gain a lot of insight from her,” Dr Hasnain said.
“It is an honour to be recognised for the work I am doing and my research into the field of paediatric medicine.
“I hope to not only develop my reputation as a researcher but to design a new therapy for the future.”