Researchers create new experimental vaccine against chikungunya virus

August 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 important factor given the limited resources available in the areas hit hardest by chikungunya.

"We need to slow this virus down in India and Southeast Asia, not just to protect the people there but to reduce the very real risk that it might become endemic here after an infected traveler arrives," Weaver said. "The best way to do that is with a vaccine, and if you're going to make a vaccine you have to look at where it's going to be used and what they can afford."

UTMB has signed a license agreement with Inviragen for commercialization of the new vaccine candidate. In addition, the two partners have been chosen to receive a four-year, $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to complete the preclinical development work needed submit an investigational new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration, opening the door to human trials.
-end-
The University of Texas Medical Branch
Office of Public Affairs
301 University Boulevard, Suite 3.102
Galveston, Texas 77555-0144
www.utmb.edu

ABOUT UTMB HEALTH: Established in 1891, Texas' academic health center comprises four health sciences schools, three institutes for advanced study, a research enterprise that includes one of only two national laboratories dedicated to the safe study of infectious threats to human health, and a health system offering a full range of primary and specialized medical services throughout Galveston County and the Texas Gulf Coast region. UTMB Health is a component of the University of Texas System and a member of the Texas Medical Center.

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Related Immune Response Articles from Brightsurf:

Boosting chickens' own immune response could curb disease
Broiler chicken producers the world over are all too familiar with coccidiosis, a parasite-borne intestinal disease that stalls growth and winnows flocks.

Cells sacrifice themselves to boost immune response to viruses
Whether flu or coronavirus, it can take several days for the body to ramp up an effective response to a viral infection.

Children's immune response more effective against COVID-19
Children and adults exhibit distinct immune system responses to infection by the virus that causes COVID-19, a finding that helps explain why COVID-19 outcomes tend to be much worse in adults, researchers from Yale and Albert Einstein College of Medicine report Sept.

Which immune response could cause a vaccine against COVID-19?
Immune reactions caused by vaccination can help protect the organism, or sometimes may aggravate the condition.

Obesity may alter immune system response to COVID-19
Obesity may cause a hyperactive immune system response to COVID-19 infection that makes it difficult to fight off the virus, according to a new manuscript published in the Endocrine Society's journal, Endocrinology.

Immune response to Sars-Cov-2 following organ transplantation
Even patients with suppressed immune systems can achieve a strong immune response to Sars-Cov-2.

'Relaxed' T cells critical to immune response
Rice University researchers model the role of relaxation time as T cells bind to invaders or imposters, and how their ability to differentiate between the two triggers the body's immune system.

A novel mechanism that triggers a cellular immune response
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine present comprehensive evidence that supports a novel trigger for a cell-mediated response and propose a mechanism for its action.

Platelets exacerbate immune response
Platelets not only play a key role in blood clotting, but can also significantly intensify inflammatory processes.

How to boost immune response to vaccines in older people
Identifying interventions that improve vaccine efficacy in older persons is vital to deliver healthy ageing for an ageing population.

Read More: Immune Response News and Immune Response Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.