Scientists in the U.S. say a vaccine that masquerades as chikungunya virus might work against the mosquito-borne disease.
There is no known vaccine or treatment for the disease, which has infected millions of people in Africa and Asia and can cause debilitating pain and, in extreme cases, death.
Gary Nabel of the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and his research team put genes that code for the virus's protein coat into cultured human cells.
The proteins assembled themselves into virus-like particles (VLPs), which mimic the virus but aren't infectious.
"We got structures that beautifully replicated the natural virus," New Scientist quoted Nabel as saying.
Rhesus monkeys injected with the VLPs produced antibodies that gave them complete protection against the virus.
Their antibodies also worked for immune-deficient mice that are normally killed by chikungunya.
Nabel says the next step is human testing and hopes that will be done in one to three years.
The study has published in Nature Medicine.