A dengue fever vaccine full of promise is being tried in the Asia Pacific region, says drug giant GlaxoSmithKline.
Earlier trials of the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine have been completed in the US and further testing on a few hundred Thai volunteers should be finished by the end of next year, Dr. Hans L. Bock told the Straits Times.
"We have a strong interest in making the vaccine available fast, given that this is an issue of major public need," said Bock, vice president and director of clinical research for GSK biologicals in the Asia-Pacific, Australasia, China, Hong Kong and Japan.
At the end of last month, more than 12,700 people in Singapore had been afflicted by the viral disease spread by the Aedes mosquito, surpassing last year's record high of 9,459. Fourteen had died.
The largest and most important stage three trial, expected to involve 10,000 toddlers and young children in Thailand and Malaysia, is forecast to take a further three years, Bock told the newspaper.
Dengue leaves an average of 400,000 people in hospitals throughout Southeast Asia every year and causes about 3,000 deaths.
There is currently no vaccine or medication against dengue, which is endemic in the region.
Bock said Singapore could play a critical role in reviewing the vaccine and serving as "a reference country".
A stamp of approval here would give other countries the confidence to shorten or do away with their own approval processes, he said, getting the vaccine approved by 2010, one or two years ahead of schedule.
The drug company contends its vaccine is the frontrunner in the race to develop one against dengue.