THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Texas scientists advance understanding of Dengue fever

A new study is reshaping how scientists look at and understand a deadly virus. An international consortium of scientists, including researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, worked to map out the antigenic differences in vario | Courtesy of wikipedia.org
A recent study conducted by an international consortium of scientists has improved the understanding of how researchers understand and study the deadly dengue virus, which is contracted by 390 million people each year and poses  life-threatening complications in 500,000 of those cases.

The researchers, who included scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), has developed a map of the antigenic differences between a variety of dengue virus strains.

"Rather than being four distinct antigenic groups in space and time, there is a continuum, or overlapping of those relationships, which makes the job of vaccine developers harder," Nikos Vasilakis, an associate professor in the department of pathology at UTMB and one of the study authors, said.

The new discovery shows that researchers may need to make their understanding of dengue more sophisticated.

There are multiple dengue vaccine candidates being developed but there is not a licensed vaccine to prevent the disease's spread. Before now, researchers believed there were just four distinct serotypes or antigenic variants to the disease. Now, they have identified an overlap between the four dengue types they had not seen before.

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The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston 301 University Blvd. Galveston, TX 77555

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