Researchers to Evaluate Connection Between Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Asthma in Infants


The upcoming study seeks to analyze whether immature lungs in infants infected with respiratory syncytial virus increases the likelihood of developing asthma later in life.

A new study will investigate the connection between infants who were infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and who developed asthma later in life. Researchers from UMC Utrecht plan to explore whether immature lungs in susceptible infants is a leading factor in the development of asthma and possible solutions to regress the harm.

Little baby boy is is treated respiratory problem with vapor nebulizer and sister's hand is touching his head to make him feel better, concept of pediatric patient care for sick in the hospital  | Image credit: Sukjai Photo -

Baby boy is is treated respiratory problem with vapor nebulizer | Image credit: Sukjai Photo -

“Chronic respiratory tract diseases such as asthma and COPD are non-communicable diseases for which infections by several respiratory viruses and genetics constitute major risk factors. The molecular and physiological mechanisms of how these viral infections cause and contribute to non-communicable disease development are unknown,” the investigators said in a press release.

Research from the National Institutes of Healthnotes that 21% of children who were infected by RSV had asthma by the age of 5 compared with 16% of children with asthma who were not infected with RSV.

The researchers are using an interdisciplinary approach, called CLARITY—cause link between respiratory syncytial virus and chronic lung disease. Using 2 cohorts, Estonian and Spanish, the experts intend to identify the human genetic risk factors and how RSV can trigger a change in cellular properties to cause asthma. Using artificial intelligence-based technologies to measure the generated data with the current biological knowledge, the researchers seek to find a compound to treat the long-term effects of RSV.

“CLARITY is expected to impact the understanding, prevention and possibly treatment of virus-triggered asthma. The results will enable the development of a genetic risk score for long-term asthma development that enables personalized prevention campaigns, which will be developed jointly with patient groups,” said Marianne Boes, PhD, and immunologist for Center for Translational Immunology and Department of Pediatrics, UMC Utrecht, in the press release. “The molecular mechanisms discovered, and the drug-like compounds that revert the perturbation signatures, will enable development of mechanism-targeted drugs. Fundamentally, the mechanisms identified in this specific model for a strong viral contribution to non-communicable disease will likely represent general mechanisms of how viral infections cause onset and development of other non-communicable diseases.”

The CLARITY study will be conducted for 5 years, involving 9 partners from 4 EU countries, 1 university, 3 clinical centers, 1 public health organization, 3 research institutions, and 1 patient organization. The press release notes that the researchers’ main outcome is to provide awareness of RSV and its link to chronic respiratory diseases, as well as advancing the management of RSV.

The investigators suggest that the upcoming study may promote the well-being of patients by offering a resourceful solution to reduce the effects of asthma caused by RSV in infants.


UMC Utrecht investigates the link between RSV infection and chronic respiratory tract disease. EurketAlert!. News release. September 1, 2023. Accessed September 1, 2023.

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