Chikungunya is a viral infection caused by the Chikungunya virus. The virus is transmitted to humans in a similar manner as dengue fever by the Aedes mosquitoes. There are two species of the Aedes mosquitoes: albopictus and aegypti.
The disease was initially found in Africa but now, it has spread to Southern Asia, Europe, Caribbean Islands as well as the Americas.
The disease has become a public threat and thousands of people are affected by it. Currently, there are no vaccines to treat chikungunya. However, medications are being used throughout the world to reduce symptoms of the painful disease.
Dr. Julie Ledgerwood at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, USA, says that they have developed a vaccine using non-infectious virus-like particles (VLP), which shields against chikungunya.
Researchers previously believed that chikungunya virus was transmitted only by Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is found in the tropics. However, scientists suggest that the Aedes albopictus, which is mainly found in temperate areas like the Americas and Europe, also transmits the disease. The scientists indicate that the outbreak of the disease has now also been reported for the first time in France, Italy and the U.S.
Ledgerwood explains that they conducted the human trial on 25 healthy volunteers, who were between the age of 18 and 50 years and all of them were American residents. The scientists gave all the participants one of the three doses of the vaccine at 0 weeks, 4 weeks and 20 weeks. The researchers examined the neutralizing antibodies of chikungunya on a regular basis.
The scientists report that the participants did not show any serious side effects of the vaccine. However, four volunteers showed some mild side effects. The participants were re-examined after 11 months and scientists claim that they have relevant evidence to conclude that the VLP vaccine can be used to offer long-term protection against the chikungunya virus.
“Such a VLP vaccine should be relatively economical to produce in large quantities because it needs minimal containment as live virus is not required for production. This same approach could also be applied to the production of vaccines against a range of viruses related to chikungunya that cause encephalitis,” says Ledgerwood.
The research is definitely a significant step for the development of chikungunya virus vaccine. However, it can take years before the vaccine is made available commercially.
Source: Tech Times