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Repository samples help shape view of new rhinovirus

Dec. 6, 2012, 10:35 AM

Vanderbilt researchers used a treasure trove of samples collected and stored at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Clinic (VVC) to prove a particular human rhinovirus (HRV), has been causing more than just the common cold for decades.

E. Kathryn Miller, M.D., MPH

E. Kathryn Miller, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunology, and first author Jodell E. Linder, Ph.D., have published new research showing the HRV-C strain was often the causative virus in samples taken over 30 years from children with severe respiratory illness.

“This confirms that HRV-C has been causing significant disease for decades. And because of the number of samples stored at the VVC, we were even able to assess that this virus peaks in a season when other rhinoviruses do not — in the winter,” Miller said.

The researchers put modern systems for genetic identification of viral strains to work on the Vanderbilt collection. More than 2,000 samples of nasal washes from children with respiratory illness were collected by the VVC between 1981 and 2003 through the work of Vanderbilt Pediatric researchers Kathy Edwards, M.D., Peter Wright, M.D., and James Crowe Jr., M.D., along with research assistant Sharon Tollefson and others.

The repository retained evidence that in more than 500 cases, HRV was the primary disease-causing virus, including HRV-C. HRV-C was found more commonly in older children, and in the winter.

In past studies, Vanderbilt researchers have shown HRV-C is responsible for its fair share of current hospitalizations in young children for lower respiratory illness, or bronchiolitis. The rhinoviruses had previously been best known for causing the common cold.

The current study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, helps add HRV-C to the list of viruses known to cause infections of the lower respiratory tract, or bronchiolitis, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

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