Chikungunya may soon be conquered by a new vaccine that has appeared in the medical horizon.
Chikungunya is a viral disease that has been plaguing India since 2006. It is a mosquito-borne disease that is charecterized by high fever and excruciatingly painful joints.The fever usually lasts for seven to ten days while the joint pain lingers for over three months or even more.
AdvertisementResearchers from the University of Texas, Colorado, University of Wisconsin, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Alabama have been successful in creating a new vaccine against the chikungunya causing virus.
According to published information online in the journal "PLoS Pathogens" a single dose of the experimental vaccine was potent enough to protect lab mice from chikungunya infection.
Up until now, Chikungunya infection has no specific treatment except to treat its symptoms with paracetamol and fluids. But now preventive vaccination may soon be available against the disease. The new recombinant live-attenuated vaccine has been created by genetically modifying the Chikungunya virus.
The modified strain differs from the wild-type virus in two ways - a) it does not cause disease b) it is not capable of infecting mosquitoes.
The second trait of the modified strain is an important safety feature that ensures that it cannot be transmitted to non-endemic locations through travellers.
According to Scott Weaver, director of Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, "There's a real need for an effective vaccine to protect against this debilitating and economically devastating infection ".
"Everything we've seen so far suggests this vaccine candidate could fill that need. We need to slow this virus down in India and SE Asia, not just to protect the people there but to reduce the very real risk that it might become endemic here after an infected traveller arrives," Weaver adds.
The new vaccine is at an experimental stage and is expected to enter clinical trials in the next couple of years.
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