Rotavirus Vaccines: Global Challenges

 

Professor Bines is internationally recognised for her work on rotavirus vaccines and intussusception. In 2004 she was awarded a National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Practitioner Fellowship and in 2006 she was appointed inaugural Victor and Loti Smorgon Professor of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne. Professor Bines has extensive experience in clinical and laboratory research involving the gut, nutrition and immunisation. She is Head of the RV3 Rotavirus Vaccine Program and a member of the management committee of the NHMRC Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Child and Adolescent Immunisation. She has been actively involved in a number of national and international committees in immunisation, including the WHO Steering Committee for Diarrhoeal Disease Vaccines. 

Rotavirus infection is the major cause of severe dehydrating gastroenteritis and is responsible for over 500,000 deaths in children under 5 years each year. Commercial rotavirus vaccines have been licensed in >80 countries worldwide and are now provided to all Australian children from two months of age. However, there are many challenges to providing these vaccines to the millions of children in areas where it is needed most. The development of an effective rotavirus vaccine that can be safely administered from birth may address barriers to implementation of current rotavirus vaccines. RV3 is a vaccine candidate developed from a strain of rotavirus (G3P[6]) that became endemic in newborn infants in Melbourne, Australia. Natural infection of neonates was 100% protective against severe rotavirus disease and 75% protective against moderate disease after rotavirus re-infection in the first 3 years of life. Phase II clinical trials of RV3 adapted to cell culture demonstrated that infants who had an immune response to the vaccine, had serotype cross reactive serum responses and heterotypic clinical protection in the first 12 months post-vaccination. A higher titre RV3 vaccine is currently under development with clinical trials to commence in 2009. The goal is to develop an effective and affordable rotavirus vaccine to provide protection from birth in children in developing countries where the burden of mortality and morbidity from rotavirus disease is grea.

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