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[LONDON] A new candidate vaccine to immunise children against the dengue virus could be created using the measles vaccine.

Researchers have demonstrated that a candidate vaccine is possible using a vector derived from measles vaccine — one of the safest and most effective human vaccines currently used.

In a paper published last week (12 December) in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the scientists — from the Pasteur Institute and the National Centre of Science Research (CNRS) in France — demonstrated that the construct works successfully in mice, inducing specific immune response to the serotype 1 form of the virus.

The encouraging results mean the researchers will now test a similar candidate vaccine, this time 'tetravalent' — targeting all of the four types of the virus.

"We are now performing repetition of the experiments and evaluation of the effects of the vaccine in vitro on human dendritic cells," says Frédéric Tangy, director of research at CNRS and head of the Viral Genomics and Vaccination laboratory at the Pasteur Institute.

"The next step will be to confirm these results in macaque [monkeys], the standard model for dengue evaluation before human clinical trials."

The researchers have been working with the measles vector for several years.

"We chose dengue as a target [for this project] because dengue vaccine needs to be administered early to children, as does measles vaccine. After more than 30 years of measles vaccination, this vaccine has proven its safety and efficacy," said Tangy.

He says they hope to create a combined vaccine to immunise simultaneously against measles and dengue — a particularly attractive option for areas such as South East Asia and South America, where both diseases threaten children every year.

Dengue fever is endemic in more than 100 countries in Africa, the Americas, South East Asia and the Western Pacific. The WHO estimates there may be 50 million cases of dengue infection worldwide every year.

Link to full article in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Reference: PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases doi 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000096 (2007)

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