Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), 3D illustration which shows two types of viral surface spikes

Imperial College London has been funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and GlaxoSmithKine (GSK) to conduct a human infection study (also known as a controlled human infection challenge study) with RSV.

Please note this study is no longer recruiting.


What is the purpose of the study?

The INFLAMMAGE study is looking at the immune response (i.e. how your body fights infection) to Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). 

RSV is a very common cold virus that can affect people mostly during winter, causing coughs, blocked/runny noses, sore throats and sometimes sore muscles and fever. Most people do not even need to visit a doctor. 

RSV can cause more severe disease in very young babies or elderly people with chest conditions, leading to hospitalisation. There is currently no vaccine and no specific treatment for RSV, partly because it is not understood why some people are protected from infection whilst others are not only infected but develop severe disease. Further research in this area is therefore needed and the aim of this research project is to identify how the human immune system responds to infection with RSV and how this changes with aging. As these are better understood, we will be able to design new therapies and possibly create new vaccines against this virus.

What does the study involve?

This study involves an initial screening visit which lasts approximately 2 hours.

It also involves a residential stay for 8-10 days at the Imperial Clinical Research Facility.  Participants must stay in the research facility after being infected with RSV to prevent the virus from spreading to vulnerable people in the community. They will be seen by a research doctor and/or nurse daily throughout this period, during which time they will record any symptoms experienced, collect blood samples, perform breathing tests, and collect samples from the nose, throat and lungs.

Over the course of the study, participants will undergo four bronchoscopies.  This involves passing a thin flexible telescope into the lungs to obtain cells and liquid, and to take small samples from the lung lining. Each bronchoscopy involves an approximate 4 hour stay.

Who can take part?

We are looking for:

  • Healthy volunteers aged 60 -75yrs
  • People who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • People who have not had a cold in the last 6 weeks
  • People who have no significant health issues.

Please note this study is no longer recruiting.

What is the duration of this study?

Each participant will be in the study for approximately 6-7 months from screening to their last scheduled visit.

Are there any potential benefits?

Taking part will not improve anyone’s health, although they might develop some immunity to the study virus and benefit from a general health check at screening. They will be compensated for their time if they take part, up to £3,000.

Contact us

To get in touch with the study team, please email:

Please note this study is no longer recruiting.