U of Georgia researchers seek to create a universal dengue vaccine

PhD students at the University of Georgia in Athens are developing a potential vaccine for all four strains of dengue, according to Athens Banner-Herald.

Five things you need to know:

1. About one-third of the global population lives in areas at high risk of infection, and dengue is the leading cause of disease and death in these locations.

2. At present, there is only one approved dengue vaccine on the market, and the immunization has its drawbacks. The vaccine could increase individuals' risk of contracting dengue if they've never had the disease before, due to the active virus within the vaccine.

"WHO recommends vaccination only in individuals with a documented past dengue infection, either by a diagnostic test or by a documented medical history of past dengue illness," World Health Organization said in a statement cited by Athens Banner-Herald.

3.Researchers are developing the vaccine using a method called COBRA or computationally optimized broadly reactive antigen.

"From there, we test for immunological responses to the proteins in mice," Uno told Athens Banner-Herald. "That enables us to characterize a more specific vaccine for the market."

4.There are four different strains of the dengue virus. Each requires a different and possibly specialized treatment. The advent of a universal vaccine would create a more effective therapy to prevent the virus.

5.The researchers started initial testing in mice. It the vaccine proves effective and safe in certain research categories, the next step would be testing in nonhuman primates.

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