Action Medical Research

Preventing serious lung infection in babies

The serious lung infection bronchiolitis affects 33 million babies worldwide each year. It is often caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). New research to help prevent and treat RSV aims to save babies’ lives – and reduce the heartache families experience when a baby is seriously ill.

history Campaign has now closed

It ran from 12:00 PM, 3 December 2019 to 12:00 PM, 10 December 2019

Registered Charity in England and Wales (208701)

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Championed by The Hospital Saturday Fund


  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing
  • Medical ResearchMedical Research


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Infants (<2)Infants (<2)


United Kingdom


Bronchiolitis affects 33 million babies worldwide every year. It is often caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), but little is known about why some children develop life-threatening infections while others have mild symptoms. Babies born prematurely are especially at risk: what seemed to be a simple cold led to baby Ella being rushed into hospital aged just 4 weeks, and put on life support after RSV took hold. She survived but her mum was ‘absolutely petrified’ they would lose her.


We’re supporting Dr Donald Davidson and his team at Edinburgh University to investigate the protective effects of cathelicidin, an anti-viral compound. The team are building on their previous discovery about this substance, which – present in a baby or child’s nose – is thought to act as a ‘natural shield’ against RSV infection. Dr Davidson explains: “Understanding why some children are more susceptible to severe RSV infections could lead to new ways to protect babies from serious illness”.

  • “This was the scariest time of my life. I never realised that something that had seemed to be a simple cold could affect my baby so seriously.”

    — Ella’s mum, Steph

  • “Our aim is to find ways to prevent or treat potentially life-threatening lung infections caused by RSV in young children.”

    — Lead researcher Dr Donald Davidson