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Vaccine Against the Chikungunya Virus in Development by a Public-Private Partnership

LEIDEN, The Netherlands, February 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Top Institute Pharma (TI Pharma) has formed a consortium with Wageningen University, Erasmus University Medical Centre and Nobilon, a subsidiary of Schering-Plough, to develop a 'proof of concept' vaccine against the Chikungunya virus. This vaccine aims to reduce the rate of Chikungunya infections.

Viral disease epidemics have increased in incidence around the world in recent decades. One of these diseases is caused by the Chikungunya virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Originally, the disease was confined to Africa, but later spread to countries in Asia. Several cases of this disease have now been confirmed in various European countries. It appears to be spread by travelers returning from affected countries. In France, there have been more than one hundred cases and in Italy a few hundred. It seems evident that the mosquitoes able of transmitting this disease are also present in Europe. Whether or not the virus will spread further throughout Europe remains to be seen.

Virologist Ab Osterhaus, one of the research supervisors, says: "Considering the increasing spread of the Chikungunya virus in Asia, and probably also in Europe in the future, it is important to develop a vaccine against this virus that can be used not only to protect people living in the endemic area, but also travelers traveling to those areas.

The groups that are going to work together in this project have extensive expertise in the field of exotic viral infectious diseases as well as significant experience with the newest technologies in the field of vaccine development."

This TI Pharma project has a budget of EUR 2.3 million and aims to achieve a 'proof of concept' vaccine by the year 2012.

Chikungunya is a serious viral illness, which is transmitted by the Asian tiger mosquito. The disease causes a sudden high fever, a rash and intense joint pain, which can result in disability, which can last several months. There is currently no vaccine or treatment available to combat this disease.

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