Dengue fever is a tropical disease caused by a virus, and is sometimes called breakbone fever because it can cause intense muscle and joint pain, as well as fever and a skin rash. It can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, which are life-threatening, and there are no approved vaccines. The Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) has started a Phase I trial of its dengue virus vaccine, developed in collaboration with Vical.
The study will involve 40 people who will receive the vaccine alone or with Vical's Vaxfectin adjuvant. The tetravalent vaccine was developed and manufactured for the NMRC by Vical under a Collaborative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), but Vical retains no rights to the vaccine.
The vaccine has been tested in animals, and stimulated an immune response against all four serotypes of dengue virus. The combination of the vaccine and adjuvant protected the animals against the virus, whereas the vaccine alone only triggered a partial protection.
The virus is spread by mosquitoes in the tropics and subtropics, and infects 50 million to 100 million people with a mortality of up to 5% in untreated cases. It has spread from Asia to the Pacific Rim, and the Americas and may even spread to Europe. Because of this a vaccine would be increasingly important. Although this one is only in early clinical trials, its progress, and the progress of other dengue fever vaccines, will be eagerly watched.
- read the press release