In a clinical trial, a new drug has been shown to safely reduce the viral load and clinical illness of healthy adult volunteers intranasally infected with respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. RSV is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract infections in young children in the United States and the rest of the world.

Researchers at the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center announced the clinical trial results on Monday. The work comes from the lab of infectious disease specialist John DeVincenzo, MD. DeVincenzo’s Le Bonheur lab has been part of many RSV advancements in the past 15 years.

Volunteers in the study were given the oral drug, AL-8176, after being infected with RSV. In successfully infected subjects, a marked immediate reduction in RSV viral load was observed following treatment in all three AL-8176 treated dose groups as compared to subjects who received a placebo.

“With no available effective therapies for RSV, results from this trial demonstrate significant promise for AL-8176, a first-in-class, RSV replication inhibitor, as a means to address the unmet medical needs of patients who suffer from this often devastating infection,” DeVincenzo said. “Given the emerging safety and efficacy profile of AL-8176, and experience in the use of other nucleoside analogues for management of other viral infections in patients including young children, further study is warranted and pediatric trials are currently underway.”

RSV hospitalizes 125,000 infected children in the United States each year, and was the cause for 1.5 million annual outpatient visits, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.