SUNY Upstate Medical University, U.S. Army start $12M partnership toward dengue vaccine

Sanofi ($SNY) is the furthest along in the race for a dengue vaccine, expecting to receive its first license to market its jab by the end of the year. But this doesn't mean others aren't trying to tackle the mosquito-borne disease. SUNY Upstate Medical University announced on Monday that it would partner with the U.S. Army on dengue studies that could help in the development of vaccines against the disease.

Over the next three and a half years, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) will invest up to $12 million in 5 clinical trials. The aim of the trials is to establish a dengue human infection model, which will help researchers understand the immune response to dengue disease and inform the development of vaccines and drugs against dengue.

During the trials, Upstate will infect volunteers with a mild version of the dengue virus to gauge the human immune response, reported.

Upstate's Dr. Timothy Endy and Dr. Mark Polhemus will lead the trials. Similar human infection models have been successful in accelerating vaccine development, Endy said in a statement, pointing to influenza as an example.

"Once developed, the dengue human infection model can be used by vaccine developers to improve existing dengue vaccines that are not completely effective, or aid in the development of novel dengue vaccines currently still in early in testing," Polhemus said.

Meanwhile, Sanofi expects its dengue jab to be licensed in 20 countries by the end of the year, and analysts have predicted that Takeda, which is also working on a dengue candidate, could have its vaccine, DENVax, on the market by 2020.

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