UW School of Medicine researchers working on RSV vaccine

SEATTLE, Wash. — For Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the UW School of Medicine, Respiratory Syncytial Virus is personal.

“Two of my three daughters spent time in the hospital with RSV when they were very young,” he said.

That, and the ambition to help others, are what’s keeping him on the RSV vaccine research front.

“I originally got into science through a desire to help people. I wanted to invent new medicines that helped people and, specifically in the medical space, either treated or prevented disease. So having a vaccine that’s out there now, being used is personally just incredibly gratifying,” he explained.

By the age of three, most Americans have had the disease. Doctors say often times, the virus manifests itself as a common cold, but for babies and other susceptible populations, RSV can land them in the hospital.

Since the disease has become all too common, and harmful, King and others at the UW School of Medicine are working on a vaccine, made with nanoparticle technology.

“We sent that vaccine to our spinout company, Icosavax, and they recently reported very positive Phase 1 clinical trial data. So, that candidate has now been tested in humans and looks like it’s doing quite well,” King said.

That technology, was developed inside UW School of Medicine.

“We have now tested our self-assembling protein nanoparticle technology across a number of vaccine indications, and it tends to be very, very consistent. We see that we increase the magnitude in some cases the breadth of protection and also in some cases the durability of protection against a wide variety of targets,” King explained.

King said given further trials are successful, they hope the vaccine could be publicly available within a couple years.

“I feel like we’re just finally at the starting line. I feel like the world is in front of us now and there are so many problems to solve, and the technology that we have built and are continuing to build will hopefully allow us to solve problems even faster. There are a lot of additional problems out there to solve, so very motivating and very energizing.”

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