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Vaccine to Protect Against Chikungunya Developed
- Updated: August 15, 2014
Chikungunya has been a major menace since first observed in part of Asia in 2005. According to the World Health Organization, there have been two million reported cases of Chikungunya since 2005, mostly all over Asia. Since the outbreak, researchers have been trying to develop an effective vaccine that provides protection against the mosquito-borne illness. The virus is spread by infected female mosquitoes, which may be the same mosquito responsible for spreading dengue fever.
Dengue and Chikungunya share similar symptoms such as headache, rash, and joint pains. Because of the problem with high fever, Chikungunya is often mistaken for Dengue.
While trying to develop an effective vaccine for Chikungunya, researchers from The World Health Organization used virus-like particles opposed to the traditional use of dead of weak virus. During experimental stages, the drug contained outer surface proteins taken from a strain in Western Africa, but it did not contain the genetic material responsible for the infection.
Subsequently, the drug resulted in an extensive antibody response in most of the 25 healthy volunteers, all of American descent. The vaccine was accepted efficiently by the body and even low doses simulated healthy antibody responses. In addition, an immune response by the way of neutralizing antibodies was noted in most of the patients after the first dose. The most critical aspect of the trials was that the antibodies had a long-lasting effect and were noted in all volunteers, even six months after the vaccine was injected.
Tests revealed the same vaccine also generated antibodies against many other types of viral infections suggesting it might be useful for a number of viral infections beyond Chikungunya. Because the tested product does not involve a live virus during production but is instead a Virus Like Particles (VLP) vaccine, it should be economical to produce in bulk.