The Chickungunya (chicken-gun-ya) virus is responsible for some of the havoc wrecked by recent viral epidemics. Transmitted to humans by the Asian tiger mosquito, the chickungunya virus has become a target for vaccine efforts by a cooperative partnership between Top Institute Pharma (TI Pharma), Wageningen University, Erasmus University Medical Center and Nobilon International, a vaccine production company. Through combined efforts of private and public research, funds and innovation, they hope to develop a vaccine to protect against chickungunya virus. This vaccine aims to reduce the
rate of infection and slow spread of the disease through lower transmission rates.
“The groups that are going to work together in this project have extensive expertise in the field of exotic viral infectious diseases as well as significant experience with the newest technologies in the field of vaccine development,” said virologist, and research supervisor Ab Osterhaus.”
Chickungunya virus causes high fever, rash, debilitating joint pain and muscle pain, headache, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms can linger, lasting for several months after initial infection. There is currently no treatment for infection with chickungunya virus.
Originally presenting in Tanzania in the 1950’s, the chickungunya virus was previously found only in Africa, but later spread to Asia and parts of Europe. The spread has been attributed to travelers visiting areas with the Asian tiger mosquito and carrying the virus to another locale. In France, there have been more than 100 cases of the virus, and a few hundred cases have been reported in Italy. New information has supported that the Asian tiger mosquito is present in these parts of Europe and is capable of spreading the virus.
This map shows the global distribution of the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus (areas enclosed in dotted lines) and distribution of chikungunya virus (stars) from western Africa to southeastern Asia, including the Indian Ocean variant responsible for the 2006 outbreak. Ae. albopictus photograph courtesy of James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Photo credit: CDC, Department of Health and Human Services
"Considering the increasing spread of the chikungunya virus in Asia, and probably also in Europe in the future, it is important to develop a vaccine against this virus that can be used not only to protect
people living in the endemic area, but also travelers traveling to those areas,” said Osterhaus.”
The groups that are going to work together in this project have extensive expertise in the field of exotic viral infectious diseases as well as significant experience with the newest technologies in the field of vaccine development."
This cooperative project has a budget of 2.3 million EUR and aims to achieve a prototype vaccine by the year 2012.