The Royal Free Hospital has begun trials for a vaccine that could protect thousands of babies from a common but potentially deadly virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV).
CMV is the most common virus but it is usually harmless; however, if caught during pregnancy it can sometimes cause problems.
The virus is related to chickenpox and herpes and once you have the virus, it stays in your body for the rest of your life.
For healthy individuals’ mild symptoms include a sore throat, aching muscles and fatigue, yet, for anyone with a weak immune system the infection can be fatal.
CMV affects around 1,000 babies born in the UK each year, of which 200 suffer problems such as cerebral palsy, deafness, mobility problems, small head size, epilepsy and developmental delay.
Medical experts are advising pregnant women not to kiss their children on the lips and ensure hygiene measures are taken. These include washing your hands with soap and hot water, regularly washing toys, as well as, avoiding sharing food, cutlery, or dummies with other children.
The HB-101 vaccine stimulates the body’s immune cells to fight against CMV, however, this is a blind trial, and therefore patients do not know if they have been given a placebo or the vaccine.
Consultant Nephrologist, Mark Harber, who is involved in the trial, said: “If the HB-101 vaccine is successful then it would make absolute sense to vaccinate people who may need a transplant and young women.”