A dengue virus vaccine candidate has reached a milestone, with promising results in animal model tests giving hope to the 390 million people infected each year.
The vaccine candidate developed by the University of Queensland, applied to the skin via the high density microarray patch (HD-MAP), produced a protective immune response in mice infected with dengue fever.
UQ doctoral candidate Jovin Choo said the result could lead to an easily administered vaccine that could help stem the devastation of dengue fever around the world.
“Dengue is the most important mosquito-borne viral disease in the tropics of the world, infecting 390 million and killing 25,000 per year, resulting in an estimated annual economic cost of $ 8.9 billion,” said Mrs. Choo.
“Although a dengue vaccine technically already exists, it is only licensed for use in certain countries where the dengue virus is endemic – and for restricted use.
“So, to properly fight this terrible disease, we have designed a candidate vaccine based on a platform technology that uses an Australian insect virus called Binjari virus.”
UQ researchers merged Binjari and dengue viruses to create what is called a chimeric virus – an artificial virus – to build the basis of the vaccine, which has resulted in great benefits.
“For example, the particles exactly mimic the surface of their dengue counterpart, which induces a strong, genuine and protective immune response,” Ms. Choo said.
“In addition, it allows us to very easily manufacture high yields of the vaccine candidate in the culture of mosquito cells.
“And it only grows in insect cells, not mammalian cells, which makes it extremely safe.”
Dr David Muller of UQ, one of the lead authors of the research, said that another advantage was that the candidate could offer potent antibody responses when administered via the developed HD-MAP system. by UQ and marketed by Vaxxas Pty Ltd.
“By using the microarray patch, we are able to use the needle-free delivery of the vaccine to the immune cell-rich layers of the skin with just one click,” he said.
“This targeted delivery allows us to achieve potent neutralizing antibody responses using a fraction of a typical dose delivered by injection.
“The ease of administration, coupled with lower doses, means that the patch could provide an effective and inexpensive vaccination option.”
UQ’s Dr Jody Hobson-Peters said this was just the beginning of the research team looking to apply these techniques more widely.
“There are four closely related variants of dengue, all of which can cause serious illness,” said Dr Peters.
“We are therefore now extending our ongoing preclinical studies to these four forms of dengue virus.
“And we are also looking to adapt this technology to other viruses, such as Zika virus, West Nile virus and Japanese encephalitis virus.
“These are daunting illnesses, but cheap, easy and accessible vaccinations for them may one day be just a click away.”