Discussing Chikungunya Current and Future Chikungunya Vaccines

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The FDA-approved vaccine for chikungunya is out, but is it a safer and more effective solution for preventing this infectious disease? What other options are coming? ICT finds out.

Infection Control Today® (ICT®) spoke with Thomas Rademacher, MD, PhD, about the recently approved first vaccine for chikungunya and what he sees coming down the line to prevent this disease that can be severe for young children, older persons, pregnant women, and individuals with long-term conditions. Rademacher is the emeritus professor of molecular medicine at University College London, London, England, and the co-founder of Emergex.

This is the second in a series of ICT discussions with Rademacher. The first one is found here.

Chikungunya virus, 3D illustration. Emerging mosquito-borne RNA virus from Togaviridae family that can cause outbreaks of a debilitating arthritis-like disease.   (Adobe Stock 126688070 by Dr Microbe)

Chikungunya virus, 3D illustration. Emerging mosquito-borne RNA virus from Togaviridae family that can cause outbreaks of a debilitating arthritis-like disease.

(Adobe Stock 126688070 by Dr Microbe)

Chikungunya is an RNA virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. It causes an illness characterized by sudden high fever, severe joint pain, rash, and muscle pain. The name "chikungunya" derives from an African word meaning "to become contorted," alluding to the arthritic symptoms that make infected individuals appear twisted in pain. While chikungunya is rarely fatal, its debilitating symptoms can persist for weeks or months, affecting a person's quality of life. Even with the recent FDA-approved vaccine, prevention through mosquito control measures and vaccines remains crucial in endemic regions. It has been identified in over 110 countries throughout the world.

During the interview, ICT asked Rademacher to describe the FDA's recently approved first vaccine to prevent chikungunya. He continues to discuss why Emergex’s solution potentially offers a more effective treatment against chikungunya.

The professor also speaks on how chikungunya and other viruses like it “have gotten pretty smart, and they actually use the immune response to them [from a vaccine or other treatment] to help them be pathogenic. And this was called antibody-dependent enhancement.”

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