22 February 2018
Australian and Indonesian researchers have developed a vaccine for a common cause of childhood diarrhoea following a world-first clinical trial in Indonesia.
The rotavirus vaccine (RV3-BB), developed by researchers from Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and Gadjah Mada University, provides earlier protection from dehydrating diarrhoea for infants and young children.
The clinical trial involving 1,649 babies saw newborns given the RV3-BB vaccine at 25 primary health centres and hospitals in Klaten, Central Java and Sleman, Yogyakarta. Current rotavirus vaccines can only be administered to children older than six weeks, which leaves newborn babies particularly vulnerable to rotavirus infection.
The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that after three doses of RV3-BB administered from birth, 94 per cent of infants were protected in their first year of life against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis. Three-quarters of infants were protected to 18 months of age.
“By starting vaccination from birth we are able to offer babies protection from rotavirus disease by three months of age. After this time, babies sometimes miss later vaccination opportunities, when their risk of the severe rotavirus disease is high,” said Professor Yati Soenarto, a regional leader in paediatric gastroenterology and rotavirus research in Indonesia.
Australian Chargé d’Affaires Allaster Cox said the success of the RV3-BB vaccine was a significant scientific and global health achievement. “This is the latest in a long line of successful collaborations between Indonesian and Australian institutions,” he said.
The trial was funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Indonesian vaccine manufacturer PT Bio Farma, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.