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Researchers create new experimental vaccine against chikungunya virus
Date:8/12/2011

GALVESTON Researchers have developed a new candidate vaccine to protect against chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne pathogen that produces an intensely painful and often chronic arthritic disease that has stricken millions of people in India, Southeast Asia and Africa.

A single dose of the experimental vaccine protected lab mice from infection with the virus, according to a paper published online in the journal PLoS Pathogens by researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Inviragen, Inc., of Ft. Collins, Colorado, the University of Wisconsin, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Alabama.

"Currently, we have no approved treatment or vaccine for chikungunya, and there's a real need for an effective vaccine to protect against this debilitating and economically devastating infection," said Scott Weaver, director of UTMB's Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, scientific director of the Galveston National Laboratory and senior author of the paper. "Everything we've seen so far suggests this vaccine candidate could fill that need."

The experimental vaccine is a "recombinant live-attenuated vaccine" created by genetically modifying the chikungunya virus using techniques developed with the initial support from the Western Regional Center of Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, headquartered at UTMB. The resulting vaccine strain differs from wild-type chikungunya virus in two ways: it doesn't cause disease, and it's incapable of infecting mosquitoes; the latter trait is an important safety feature to ensure that the vaccine strain cannot initiate transmission in nonendemic locations where travelers might be immunized before a trip to Africa or Asia. But it still provokes an immune response to protect against future chikungunya infections.

Such a live virus vaccine would also be relatively economical to produce in large quantities an impo
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Contact: Jim Kelly
jpkelly@utmb.edu
409-772-8791
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

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