Themis Chikungunya prophylactic hits Phase I goal

Chikungunya fever is a dangerous tropical virus that has recently surfaced in the U.S. after erupting in the Caribbean. But Austria-based Themis Bioscience may eventually have a way to combat it, new data suggest. 

The interim results of the first clinical trial proved successful after the biotech opted to use a live attenuated, replicating measles vaccine as the vehicle to deliver prophylaxis against the painful mosquito-transmitted virus (CHIKV). The vaccine technology, developed by the Pasteur Institute in Paris, uses the most common strain of the measles vaccine to act as the vector. Themis licensed the technology from the institute.

"The confirmed tolerance, safety and immune response show the suitability of our Themaxyn platform … [which] constitutes the basis of our pipeline, comprising a dengue fever vaccine candidate and vaccine constructs for other rapidly spreading infectious diseases," said Themis founder and CEO Dr. Erich Tauber in a statement.

Themis said in its press release that its Themaxyn platform is being adapted in preparation for a spread of the disease in the U.S. CHIKV was carried from the Caribbean to the U.S. by travelers earlier this month, and in Florida, there have been 25 cases--the country's majority--reported the CDC and state officials. Last week, health officials in Indiana, North Carolina and Nebraska reported cases of CHIKV, and Tennessee has one suspected case.

Themis is also developing a vaccine for dengue fever, another viral infection transmitted to humans through a bite from an infected mosquito, but has yet to progress beyond animal studies with it. No vaccines are currently available for CHIKV or dengue fever.

Several companies, including Fort Collins, CO-based Inviragen, are also working on CHIKV and dengue vaccines.

- here's the release from Themis
- get more from Reuters on CHIKV