The Quest for a Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine for Older Adults: Thinking beyond the F Protein
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common cause of paediatric respiratory tract infection and causes a significant health burden in older adults. Natural immunity to RSV is incomplete, permitting recurrent symptomatic infection over an individual’s lifespan. When combined with immunosenescence, this increases older adults’ susceptibility to more severe disease symptoms. As RSV prophylaxis is currently limited to infants, older adults represent an important target population for RSV vaccine development. The relationship between RSV and our immune systems is complex, and these interactions require deeper understanding to tailor an effective vaccine candidate towards older adults. To date, vaccine candidates targeting RSV antigens, including pre-F, F, G (A), G (B), M2-1, and N, have shown efficacy against RSV infection in older adults in clinical trial settings. Although vaccine candidates have demonstrated robust neutralising IgG and cellular responses, it is important that research continues to investigate the RSV immune response in order to further understand how the choice of antigenic target site may impact vaccine effectiveness. In this article, we discuss the Phase 3 vaccine candidates being tested in older adults and review the hurdles that must be overcome to achieve effective protection against RSV.