University of Tartu virologists created vaccine candidate for dangerous tropical disease

The University of Tartu researchers together with international specialists work on a vaccine candidate that has shown exceptionally good results on animals and may in future protect people against the dangerous Chikungunya virus.

Chikungunya and Zika viruses come from the same region and are transmitted by the same mosquitoes. Also symptoms caused by the viruses are similar: high temperature, severe headache and acute skin rash. Although for a long time the Chikungunya-caused viral fever did not arouse much interest, the Chikungunya virus whose massive spread started in 2005 is regarded the medically most important alphavirus in the world and the fever it causes is a much more serious viral disease than ailments caused by the Zika virus. A person infected with Chikungunya virus may have to stay in hospital for two or three weeks and later suffer from severe joint pain for several years.  Above all else, the arthritis attacks wrists, fingers, ankles and other limb joints.

The University of Tartu virologists together with researchers from Sweden, Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Australia and Singapore succeeded in creating one of the few anti-Chikungunya vaccine candidates, which has shown exceptionally good results in preclinical studies on mice and monkeys. 

Professor of applied virology Andres Merits of the University of Tartu hopes that the Austrian pharmaceutical company Valneva, who is very much interested in the created preparation, will start clinical trials. “Maybe such trials are in progress already, because we are constantly asked for additional information, but we do not know for certain. They have never reported it,” explained Merits.

Read further about the vaccine candidate on ERR Novaator.

Additional information: Andres Merits, UT Professor of Applied Virology, 737 5007, andres.merits@ut.ee

Viivika Eljand-Kärp Press Officer of the UT Phone: +372 737 5683
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