Thrasher Research Fund - Medical research grants to improve the lives of children

Project Details

Early Career

Status: Funded - Open

Viral genetic determinants of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) underlying clinical disease severity in pediatric infection

Gregory Walker, PhD


BACKGROUND: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in young children. An interplay of viral, host, and environmental factors direct the clinical course of infection however, known risk factors incompletely explain the variable disease severity amongst previously healthy children, who make up the majority of RSV-caused hospitalizations. GAP: Whole-genome sequencing and analysis is needed to characterize genetic variants of RSV that contribute to the wide spectrum of disease presentation seen clinically. HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesize that the severity of RSV infection is influenced by viral genetics (unrelated to conventional genotyping methods). The aim of this study is to identify viral genetic determinants associated with severe RSV disease including specific site-mutations, viral variants, and intra-host diversity. METHODS: Viral genomes will be sequenced from leftover diagnostic swabs collected from RSV-positive infants (<1yr) during healthcare visits at two major pediatric hospitals in NSW, Australia. Analysis of viral genomes will be linked to clinical data collected retrospectively from medical records. RESULTS: Pending. IMPACT: Our data will enable preparation of healthcare systems for RSV epidemics through predicting the severity of circulating strains or variants, and inform guidelines for the use of imminently available RSV vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and antivirals. Website Link:

Supervising Institution:
University of New South Wales

William Rawlinson

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