Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Experimental vaccine protects monkeys against chikungunya

05.03.2010
Mosquito-borne virus has infected millions of people in Asia, Africa and Europe

Imagine a mosquito-borne virus that has already infected millions of people in recent outbreaks in South and Southeast Asia, the islands of the Indian Ocean, Africa and northern Italy.

Although seldom fatal, it causes highly painful arthritis-like symptoms that can linger for months or even years. It's capable of adapting to spread through a mosquito species common in much of North America. And no vaccine or treatment exists to protect humans from its effects.

The scenario may sound like something dreamed up as a training exercise by public health authorities, but the virus is all too real. Called chikungunya, from an East African tribal word describing the contorted postures of its pain-wracked victims, the pathogen has been the focus of intense scientific interest ever since a 2006 outbreak on the island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean infected about 266,000 people, killing 260 of them.

Now, researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Purdue University and Bioqual Inc. have developed an experimental vaccine for chikungunya virus and successfully tested it in monkeys. Described in a paper appearing in the March issue of Nature Medicine, the vaccine is composed of noninfectious "virus-like particles." Although coated with the same proteins that enable chikungunya to pass through cell membranes, the vaccine particles lack the proteins that chikungunya uses to replicate inside cells. They look like chikungunya to the immune systems of rhesus macaques, however, which respond to exposure by generating antibodies that defend the monkeys from infection by the real virus.

"This vaccine did an excellent job of protecting the macaques from chikungunya," said UTMB professor Stephen Higgs, one of the paper's authors. "That it worked so well in a primate model is good news — these macaques are quite similar to humans in their response to chikungunya, and we badly need to develop an effective human vaccine for this virus."

To create the virus-like particles used in the experimental vaccine, the researchers used genetic engineering techniques to produce the structural proteins that produce the spiky, roughly spherical exterior possessed by chikungunya viruses before they have entered a cell. The proteins then assembled themselves into harmless balls that resembled particles of Sindbis virus — a relative of chikungunya and a fellow member of the alphavirus genus, which also includes a number of insect-borne viruses capable of causing dangerous encephalitis in humans.

Serum drawn from rhesus macaques injected with the virus-like particles contained substantial levels of antibodies that inactivated chikungunya virus. Two groups of macaques were then inoculated, either with virus-like particles or with a sham solution containing no vaccine. When the researchers challenged the monkeys by injection with chikungunya 15 weeks later, they found that the vaccine had completely protected the animals from the virus.

Dr.Gary Nabel, director of the NIAID's Vaccine Research Center and corresponding author on the Nature Medicine paper, said that the vaccine's effectiveness against chikungunya had led his group to plan follow-up investigations into whether the same approach would work against other alphaviruses, such as Western and Eastern equine encephalitis viruses (both responsible for periodic outbreaks in the United States), and Africa's o'nyong-nyong virus.

Other authors of the Nature Medicine paper included Wataru Akahata, Zhi-Yong Yang, Wing-Pui Kong and Srinivas Rao of the NIAID Vaccine Research Center; Hanne Anderson and Mark G. Lewis of Bioqual Inc., Rockville, Md.; and Siyang Sun, Heather Holdaway and Michael Rossmann of Purdue University. The Intramural Research Program of the NIAID Vaccine Research Center supported this investigation.

ABOUT UTMB: Established in 1891, Texas' first 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 is a component of the University of Texas System.

Jim Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utmb.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Better equipped in the fight against lung cancer
16.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Asian tiger mosquito on the move

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>