Science Daily March 5, 2010
Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, UTMB, Purdue University and Bioqual Inc. have developed an experimental vaccine for chikungunya virus and successfully tested it in monkeys. Described in a paper appearing in the March issue of Nature Medicine, the vaccine is composed of noninfectious “virus-like particles.” Although coated with the same proteins that enable chikungunya to pass through cell membranes, the vaccine particles lack the proteins that chikungunya uses to replicate inside cells. They look like chikungunya to the immune systems of rhesus macaques, however, which respond to exposure by generating antibodies that defend the monkeys from infection by the real virus. “This vaccine did an excellent job of protecting the macaques from chikungunya,” said UTMB professor Stephen Higgs, one of the paper’s authors. The article also appears in R&D Magazine.