Wednesday, June 10, 1998 Published at 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Asthma vaccine could be just three years away
An asthma vaccine could be ready in three years' time
A vaccine against asthma could be ready for trials in just three years after a scientific breakthrough.
Scientists have discovered the active part of the virus which is thought to be behind a third of all asthma cases.
The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) inflames the inside of the lungs, weakens the immune system and produces a mucous which obstructs the airways.
Scientists at the Imperial College School of Medicine in London and American experts at the National Institute of Health believe they have identified the protein which causes the inflammation.
They say only a small amount of the G protein is necessary to damage the immune systems of mice.
The National Institute in Washington hopes to develop a vaccine which could be tested on humans within three years.
Peter Openshaw of Imperial College told the 'New Scientist': "We really do feel we're on the verge of developing vaccines against conditions like asthma that involve manipulation of the immune response."
But it may not all be plain sailing as earlier trials of a vaccine for RSV led to some children needing hospital treatment following exposure to the virus.