Researchers develop first chikungunya vaccine from virus that does not affect people

chikungunya
Cryoelectron microscopy reconstruction of Chikungunya virus. From EMDB entry 5577. Credit: Wikipedia

Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have developed the first vaccine for chikungunya fever made from an insect-specific virus that doesn't have any effect on people, making the vaccine safe and effective. The newly developed vaccine quickly produces a strong immune defense and completely protects mice and nonhuman primates from disease when exposed to the chikungunya virus. The findings are detailed in Nature Medicine.

"This offers efficient, safe and affordable protection against chikungunya and builds the foundation for using viruses that only infect insects to develop vaccines against other insect-borne diseases," said UTMB professor Scott Weaver, senior author of this paper.

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes a disease characterized by fever and severe joint pain, often in hands and feet, and may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Some patients will feel better within a week but many develop longer-term joint pain that can last up to years. Death is rare but can occur.

Traditionally, involves tradeoffs between how quickly the vaccine works and safety. Live-attenuated vaccines that are made from weakened versions of a live pathogen typically offer rapid and durable immunity but reduced safety. On the other hand, the inability of inactivated vaccines to replicate enhances safety at the expense of effectiveness, often requiring several doses and boosters to work properly. There may be a risk of disease with both of these vaccine types, either from incomplete inactivation of the virus or from incomplete or unstable weakening of the live virus that is only recognized when rare vulnerable individuals develop disease.

To overcome these tradeoffs, the researchers used the Eilat virus as a vaccine platform since it only infects insects and has no impact on people. The UTMB researchers used an Eilat virus clone to design a hybrid virus-based vaccine containing chikungunya structural proteins.

The Eilat/Chikungunya vaccine was found to be structurally identical to natural chikungunya virus. The difference is that although the hybrid virus replicates very well in mosquito cells, it cannot replicate in mammals.

Within four days of a single dose, the Eilat/Chikungunya candidate vaccine induced neutralizing antibodies that lasted for more than 290 days. The antibodies provided complete protection against chikungunya in two different mouse models. In , Eilat/Chikungunya elicited rapid and robust immunity - there was neither evidence of the in the blood nor signs of illness such as fever after infection.


Explore further

Confirmed cases of chikungunya soar in Brazil

More information: Jesse H Erasmus et al. A chikungunya fever vaccine utilizing an insect-specific virus platform, Nature Medicine (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nm.4253
Journal information: Nature Medicine

Citation: Researchers develop first chikungunya vaccine from virus that does not affect people (2016, December 19) retrieved 22 September 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-12-chikungunya-vaccine-virus-affect-people.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
817 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Dec 20, 2016
Sad that chikungunya had to hit the US/Europe before people with real resources started to research it. Probably the only potential upside to climate change is that many neglected tropical diseases will spread to wealthy countries and they will HAVE to put money into research. Let's hope a successful vaccine for humans is made available at low cost to affected nations. Especially since I live in one.

And how about starting research on those tropical diseases before they arrive? Then you can have a ready prophylaxis for your own population while helping those nations lacking the resources to create their own.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more