Thailand developing dengue vaccine: researcher

February 22, 2011

Researchers in Thailand say they have developed a prototype vaccine against dengue fever and will conduct further tests with the aim of bringing it to market within a decade.

The vaccine against the mosquito-borne disease was jointly developed by scientists from Thailand's Chiang Mai University, Mahidol University and the government's National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

"It's the first time in Thailand that we created a prototype vaccine against dengue that has the attributes we wanted," said Associate Professor Nopporn Sithisombat at Chiang Mai University in northern Thailand.

"Our goal is to create a vaccine against dengue fever in children" said Nopporn.

The vaccine has been tested on mice and monkeys. The next stage will be human trials, he said.

Dengue, for which there is no known treatment, causes a severe flu-like illness for most victims that lasts about a week. There are four strains, one of which is potentially lethal.

The Thai team said it had created a hybrid that carries of all four types.

The developers have struck a licensing agreement with Thai biotech firm BioNet-Asia, which will further develop the vaccine with the aim of releasing the first commercial batch within 10 years, Nopporn said.

Other researchers appear ahead in the race: Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis, announced in November that its dengue was in the final stage of clinical development.

In Thailand more than 115,000 people were infected and 141 died last year from dengue fever, many of them young people, according to the government.

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