Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston have developed the first vaccine for chikungunya fever made from an insect-specific virus that doesn't have any effect on people, making the vaccine safe and effective. The newly developed vaccine quickly produces a strong immune defense and completely protects mice and non-human primates from disease when exposed to the chikungunya virus. The findings were published online on December 19, 2016 in Nature Medicine. The article is titled: A Chikungunya Fever Vaccine Utilizing an Insect-Specific Virus Platform.” "This vaccine offers efficient, safe, and affordable protection against chikungunya and builds the foundation for using viruses that only infect insects to develop vaccines against other insect-borne diseases," said UTMB Professor Scott Weaver, senior author of this paper. Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes a disease characterized by fever and severe joint pain, often in hands and feet, and may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Some patients will feel better within a week but many develop longer-term joint pain that can last up to years. Death is rare, but can occur. Traditionally, vaccine development involves tradeoffs between how quickly the vaccine works and safety. Live-attenuated vaccines that are made from weakened versions of a live pathogen typically offer rapid and durable immunity but reduced safety. On the other hand, the inability of inactivated vaccines to replicate enhances safety at the expense of effectiveness, often requiring several doses and boosters to work properly.
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