In December 2011, CSL announced a partnership with the world’s largest health research agency, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), to study a potential therapy for the prevention of congenital CMV infection. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the most common known causes of birth abnormalities in the developed world. Between 1% and 2% of pregnant women are infected with CMV for the first time during their pregnancy, and one in three will pass the CMV infection on to their developing unborn child.
The NIH has since commenced a very large clinical trial in the US to determine whether CMV immunoglobulin (CMV antibodies from human plasma) can prevent mother to baby transmission of CMV. CSL donated 12,000 units of CytoGam® for use in the study, valued at US$2.5 million. CytoGam® is the only registered CMV immunoglobulin in the US.
In Australia, CMV is one of the leading causes of disabilities in infants, including deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities, seizures, and even death. The symptoms of CMV may not be immediately apparent at birth, and even well beyond. There is currently no proven therapeutic prevention for congenital CMV.