Swiss biopharmaceutical company funds PUCRS research project

Study on drugs gains international relevance due to pioneering methodology for preventing infections in children

15/09/2022 - 09h05

Photo: Jonathan Heckler

A study developed by students and faculty of the Laboratory of Clinical and Experimental Immunology of PUCRS’ School of Health and Life Sciences received funding from OM-Pharma, a leading Swiss biopharmaceutical company. The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology given its relevance in analyzing the effects of OM-85 in protecting against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection.

RSV is a causative agent of respiratory infections in children and the main cause of bronchiolitis in individuals aged 0 – 5. Today, there is no vaccine available and therapeutic methods to mitigate the severity of RSV bronchiolitis are limited. In this regard, the research developed at PUCRS is pioneering in indicating that the early prolonged use of OM-85 effectively protects against RSV-induced diseases, preventing viral replication and associated inflammation sequelae in the lungs.

Dr. Ana Paula Duarte, School of Health and Life Sciences researcher, is serving as project coordinator, with the assistance of School of Medicine researcher, Dr. Renato Stein. The study includes other researchers: postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Krist Helen Antunes, who received the award for Best Paper presented at the Southern Symposium on Immunology, and farmacy major Sofia Giacomet Borges, also recognized at the Internal Seminar on the Evaluation of Undergraduate Research at PUCRS

About OM-85 and RSV

Acute viral bronchiolitis caused by RSV is a highly inflammatory condition of the airways, making it one of the most prevalent diseases in children in the first two years of life. It causes as many as 190,000 deaths per year worldwide, according to the study developed at PUCRS. Thus, interventions to reduce viral replication and consequent the severity of the disease have received great attention from dedicated researchers.

Bacterial lysates are drugs indicated for therapy in all infectious processes of the respiratory tract and for the prevention of relapses and the transition to the chronic state. Recently, several studies have suggested the important role of bacterial lysates in the maintenance of respiratory antiviral immunity through the modulation of the immune response. These include studies demonstrating that OM-85, a bacterial lysate developed by OM-Pharma, effectively protects against various viruses in human cells and animal models.

Protagonism of PUCRS research

Photo: Gustavo Fring/Pexels

PUCRS researchers began their studies to assess protection against viral respiratory infection using OM-85 directly in the airways, the first study carried out in Brazil using this methodology. The findings show that OM-85 administered in the airways is highly effective against RSV infection, especially when administered for at least five days before infection.

According to the research, this bacterial lysate may induce various microbial stimuli in the airways and its contact with the airway mucosa may help regulate the response to viruses. In addition, it has been shown that OM-85 can be considered a strong protection against RSV infection, when used intranasally as a method of prevention, without causing harm to the host.

“Further studies are needed to determine whether administration of this bacterial lysate to the airways can protect humans from clinically significant RSV bronchiolitis. Reducing the number of respiratory infections in children is extremely important, as it can reduce the number of hospitalizations and costs for the health system”, Ana Paula Duarte says.

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