Clinical trial for dengue fever vaccine to begin

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports that a biotech company located in Fort Collins, Colo., is beginning its first clinical trials of a vaccine for dengue fever.

Inviragen CEO Dan Stinchcomb told the newspaper that the company has received the go-ahead to begin trials on the vaccine, which was developed at Colorado State University by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vector-Borne Diseases division.

"To have home-grown technology that has progressed from the research bench to clinical trials is a great milestone for Inviragen and the CDC," Stinchcomb told the newspaper.

The earliest the vaccine will hit the market, he told the newspaper, is 2015.

The first phase study will be conducted at St. Louis University and involve 70 healthy volunteers being injected with either a high dose, a low dose or a placebo of the vaccine, which is named DenVax.

“The presence of antibodies that can neutralize all four (dengue) viruses will tell us the volunteer is responding to the vaccine in such a way that could be protective,” Stinchcomb told the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Dengue fever is spread by mosquitoes and threatens over 3.6 billion people who live or visit tropical and subtropical locales. Symptoms include high fever associated with bone and joint pain, muscle pain and body rash. Dengue hemorrhagic fever also includes vascular leakage and blood loss. Dengue fever kills about 20,000 people annually.

"Finding a safe and effective vaccine for dengue is a global health priority," Dr. Sarah George, an assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at St. Louis University and principal investigator of the study, said in a statement to the Fort Collins Coloradoan.