Vaccine Against the Chikungunya Virus in Development by a Public-Private Partnership

February 4, 2009

LEIDEN, The Netherlands, February 4 /PRNewswire/ — Top Institute Pharma
(TI Pharma) has formed a consortium with Wageningen University, Erasmus
Medical Centre and Nobilon, a subsidiary of Schering-Plough, to
develop a ‘proof of concept’ vaccine against the Chikungunya virus. This
vaccine aims to reduce the rate of Chikungunya infections.

Viral disease epidemics have increased in incidence around the world in
recent decades. One of these diseases is caused by the Chikungunya virus,
which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Originally, the disease was confined to
Africa, but later spread to countries in Asia. Several cases of this disease
have now been confirmed in various European countries. It appears to be
spread by travelers returning from affected countries. In France, there have
been more than one hundred cases and in Italy a few hundred. It seems evident
that the mosquitoes able of transmitting this disease are also present in
Europe. Whether or not the virus will spread further throughout Europe
remains to be seen.

Virologist Ab Osterhaus, one of the research supervisors, says:
“Considering the increasing spread of the Chikungunya virus in Asia, and
probably also in Europe in the future, it is important to develop a vaccine
against this virus that can be used not only to protect people living in the
endemic area, but also travelers traveling to those areas.

The groups that are going to work together in this project have extensive
expertise in the field of exotic viral infectious diseases as well as
significant experience with the newest technologies in the field of vaccine

This TI Pharma project has a budget of EUR 2.3 million and aims to
achieve a ‘proof of concept’ vaccine by the year 2012.

Chikungunya is a serious viral illness, which is transmitted by the Asian
tiger mosquito. The disease causes a sudden high fever, a rash and intense
joint pain, which can result in disability, which can last several months.
There is currently no vaccine or treatment available to combat this disease.


Source: newswire

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