Scientists make strides toward Chikungunya vaccine

Scientists from French biopharmaceutical company VIVALIS and from A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network have discovered two fully human monoclonal antibodies that might put them a step closer to finding a vaccine for the Chikungunya disease.

Chikungunya, spread by the Aedes mosquito, is a disease present in South Asia, Africa and Southeast Asia, with over 1,000 cases reported in Singapore alone over the last two years, Channel News Asia reports.

The team of scientists, coordinated by Dr. Lucile Warter of SIgN, published its findings in the Journal of Immunology, reporting that the monoclonal antibodies may be more potent with fewer side effects when compared to conventional small molecule drugs.

Further tests are underway to validate how well the antibodies perform as a potential treatment for Chikungunya, according to Channel News Asia.

The disease, which has similarities with dengue, causes fever, severe joint pain, headache, nausea, rash and fatigue. The illness occurs from two to 12 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. There is currently no cure for the disease and treatment typically targets the symptoms, according to the World Health Organization.

Large outbreaks have occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1999 through 2000, in February 2005 on the islands of the Indian Ocean, and in Gabon in 2007. Prevention and control requires reducing the number of water-filled container habitats that support mosquito breeding, as well as the use of insecticides and mosquito nets.