GSK pauses three trials of respiratory virus vaccine in pregnant women

The healthcare company said that further analysis to better understand safety data from these trials is continuing.

GSK, the British pharmaceutical company, announced today that enrolment and vaccination in three trials of its experimental vaccine against the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in pregnant women had been halted, the latest setback in the development of a vaccine for the microbe. GSK announced on Feb 18th that a late-stage trial dubbed "GRACE," as well as two other studies, had been paused based on safety recommendations from an independent committee, but did not elaborate on what triggered the recommendations. RSV is a prominent cause of pneumonia in children and the elderly, but vaccine development has been hampered for decades due to setbacks. However, numerous pharmaceutical companies are now attempting to bring a candidate to market in the coming years.

GSK which is the world's largest vaccine maker by sales, said on Monday that the halts had no impact on another trial of its RSV vaccine candidate for adults aged 60 and up, and that the safety data from the maternal trials is still being analysed. RSV vaccinations are considered as a way for GSK to follow through on promises to improve its drug development success record, which has historically lagged behind its industry peers. GSK's shot for pregnant women was aimed at conferring immunity to protect unborn children. Analysts have pegged its vaccine for the elderly, another vulnerable group, as a potential huge RSV market, with trial findings anticipated in the first half of this year.