Sanofi Pasteur expands global dengue vaccine clinical program in Latin America

MEXICO CITY — Sanofi Pasteur announced Dec. 9 that it is expanding its dengue vaccine clinical program in Latin America with a new multicenter study in children and adolescents in Mexico, Colombia, Honduras and Puerto Rico.

This new multicenter study complements an earlier study in Mexico and an ongoing study in Peru, Sanofi Pasteur said in a press release.

These studies are aimed at advancing the development of a novel vaccine for the prevention of dengue infections in Latin America. Currently, there is no specific treatment available against dengue fever, which is the most widespread tropical disease after malaria.

"Latin America was considered almost free of dengue in the 1960s. Since then, urbanization and travel have contributed to the fast re-emergence of the disease. Today, dengue disease is a severe public health issue throughout Latin America," said Dr. Roberto Tapia-Conyer, director general at Carso Health Institute. "So far, controlling the mosquitoes that transmit dengue didn't stop this trend. A safe and effective vaccine would be most welcome to prevent dengue epidemics in the region."

Nineteen Latin American countries were certified as dengue free between 1952 and 1965. The first reappearance of dengue fever was recorded in 1968, and by 2007 the disease had once more taken hold in all those countries.

In 2008 and 2009, severe dengue epidemics have been reported in Mexico, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina.

"Fighting dengue is of the utmost public health importance: We must remain on epidemiological alert as dengue continues to circulate in Latin America", said Dr. Jorge Mendez, investigator at the children's hospital Federico Gomez in Mexico and co-investigator for the evaluation of a dengue vaccine in Mexico.

Sanofi Pasteur started the development of a dengue vaccine in the 1990s. Its dengue vaccine research program includes ongoing clinical studies with adults and children in Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Peru, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand.