Local News

New vaccine fights mosquito-borne viruses

Posted July 14, 2014 4:41 p.m. EDT
Updated July 25, 2014 6:37 p.m. EDT

— Clinical stage biotechnology company, Arbovax Inc., created a vaccine for Chikungunya, the company announced last month.

It was developed by Dr. Dennis Brown and Dr. Raquel Hernandez of North Carolina State University.

"We can grow it very quickly and cheaply in insect cells," said Abrovax CEO Malcolm Thomas. "We are expecting for it to be at least five to 10 years protection before you need a booster shot."

The mosquito-borne virus had an outbreak in the Caribbean last December, spreading to several other islands. Recently, the virus made its way to the United States.

“To date, there have been over 130,000 cases, so it was only a question of time before it came to the U.S. and we have effective means to combat it,” Thomas said in a statement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 80 confirmed cases of Chikungunya in 13 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as of June 17. Of those cases, 57 were people who recently visited the Caribbean. The virus originated in Africa in the 1950s, with the name Chikungunya meaning “bent out of shape.”

One of the most common signs of the virus is multiple joint pains along with fever.

Chikungunya is not usually fatal but can cause severe pain to the infected.

In animal tests, the vaccine has proven to fight the virus and other mosquito-borne viral diseases such as dengue fever, West Nile, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever, according to Arbovax researchers.