LEUVEN, Belgium, October 26 /PRNewswire/ --

- The Laboratory for Virology and Experimental Chemotherapy (Rega Institute) and the Centre for Drug Design and Discovery (CD3) at K.U.Leuven will receive a total of 2.8 million euro from the British Wellcome Trust. - They will apply these funds to the search for possible new medication for the treatment of infections related to the 'dengue fever virus'. Dengue or 'breakbone fever' is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions. As of yet, there is neither a vaccine nor any form of treatment for this disease. - The findings of the researchers in Leuven will be developed further into medication, in co-operation with the pharmaceutical industry. - The Wellcome Trust is the largest independent fund for biomedical research in the United Kingdom. This is the first time that the fund is financing technology transfer on the European continent.

Breakbone or dengue fever is a viral disease prevalent in the tropics and subtropics. The World Health Organisation estimates that approximately 50 to 100 million people are infected with the virus every year. In approximately half a million cases the disease takes on a life threatening form: sufferers develop bleeding or go into shock. Children are especially sensitive to the virus and as a result the majority of victims are children. The number of cases has increased very rapidly in recent years.

Currently, the only way to counteract the spread of dengue is to exterminate the mosquitoes that carry the virus. Since no vaccines exist, it is of the utmost importance to develop medications for the treatment of dengue, including preventive medication (as has also been done in the case of malaria, for example).

SOURCE: K.U.Leuven

CONTACT: For more information, please contact at the K.U.Leuven: Dr.Patrick Chaltin of CD3 on telephone number +32-16-326523 or via e-mail:patrick.chaltin@lrd.kuleuven.be; Prof. Johan Neyts of the Department ofMicrobiology and Immunology on telephone number +32-16-337353 or viae-mail: johan.neyts@rega.kuleuven.be