Tackling Severe Viral Respiratory Diseases
Today, viral respiratory infections are among the most common illnesses in the world. Too often underestimated or untreated, they cause an estimated four million deaths every year.1 That’s four million too many.
We have an intensive research and development program focused on innovative solutions to prevent and treat three of the most severe viral respiratory infections: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza (flu) and human metapneumovirus (hMPV). Our goal is to help people fight the burden of these infections.
RSV is a common seasonal virus that affects the lungs and airways of 64 million adults and children every year.2 All infants and toddlers will experience at least one RSV infection before they reach the age of two.3 RSV causes almost 160,000 deaths per year and remains a major cause of hospitalization among adults, as well as young children and infants in industrialized countries.4
Our RSV compound development program is focused on exploring multiple mechanisms of action to inhibit viral replication including research into various investigational vaccines.
Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, remains one of the world’s most serious public health challenges. Although not always seen as a high-risk infection, and often written off as ‘just a cold,’ it kills someone every 60 seconds.5
Worldwide there are more than one billion cases of influenza each year,6 resulting in approximately five million cases of severe illness and up to 650,000 deaths.5 Those at high risk of complications are infants and young children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with underlying medical conditions and the immunocompromised.5
Each year, vaccines are made available to help prevent infection, primarily among these high-risk groups. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that recent studies now show flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by 40 – 60 percent among the overall population during the flu season.7 This highlights the need to find new ways to stop these outbreaks.
The treatment of influenza consists of antiviral medications that have been shown in clinical studies to shorten the disease and reduce the severity of symptoms if taken within two days of infection. There is a need for new medicines that provide a longer treatment window, are effective for hospitalized patients that are severely ill and have a reduced threat of resistance.
In an effort to combat resistance and address the global need for improved treatment options against influenza A and B, we are exploring multiple compounds with differing mechanisms of action.
Human Metapneumovirus (hMPV) causes respiratory disease in people of all ages, especially young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. It is the second most common cause of lower respiratory tract infection in children.
By the age of 5, most will have been infected with hMPV, and of these, 5 – 16 percent will develop a serious lower respiratory tract infection such as pneumonia.8
Approximately 10 percent of hospitalizations due to pediatric respiratory illnesses are caused by hMPV9 and 10 percent of adults over the age of 65 will test positive for hMPV.8
Only recently has hMPV been recognized as a respiratory virus and displays similar symptoms to RSV. Healthcare professionals do not normally test for hMPV infection, but hMPV can be detected by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assays, immunofluorescence, enzyme immunoassay or identifying the virus in cell cultures.
Currently, there is no specific antiviral therapy for hMPV available. Janssen is exploring a nucleoside analogue for the potential treatment of the disease.
1 Mayor S. Acute respiratory infections are world’s third leading cause of death. BMJ. 2010; 9(1): c6360–c6360.
2 Collins PL and Graham BS. Viral and Host Factors in Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus Pathogenesis. Journal of Virology. 2008; 82(5): 2040-2055.
3 World Health Organization. (2017). WHO Preferred Product Characteristics for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Vaccines. [online]. Available at: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/258705/1/WHO-IVB-17.11-eng.pdf?.... Last accessed: February 2018
4 Hurwitz, J. L. Respiratory syncytial virus vaccine development. Expert Review of Vaccines. 2011; 10(10): 1415–1433.
5 World Health Organization. (2018). Influenza (Seasonal). [online]. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/ Last accessed: February 2018.
6 World Health Organization. (2008). Immunization, vaccines and biologicals: influenza. Available at: http://www.who.int/immunization/topics/influenza/en/ Last accessed: February 2018
7 CDC. (2017). Vaccine Effectiveness - How Well Does the Flu Vaccine Work? | Seasonal Influenza (Flu) [online]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm Last accessed: February 2018.
8 American Lung Association. (2018). Learn about Human Metapneumovirus (hMPV). [online]. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/human-m... Last accessed: February 2018.
9 Panda S et al. Human metapneumovirus: review of an important respiratory pathogen. International Journal of Infectious Disease. 2014; 25: 45-52.