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Scientists Make Vaccine For Dengue

Jakarta, Jun 15 : Scientists are optimistic they may soon have a vaccination for dengue fever, a disease that threatens more than half the world's population. A crucial final-phase trial has just ended in Thailand and

PTI [ Updated: June 15, 2011 8:46 IST ]
scientists make vaccine for dengue
scientists make vaccine for dengue

Jakarta, Jun 15 : Scientists are optimistic they may soon have a vaccination for dengue fever, a disease that threatens more than half the world's population.

 
A crucial final-phase trial has just ended in Thailand and results should be known by the end of next year.
 
An estimated 220 million people go down with the disease each year. It's so painful it's also called "Break-Bone Fever".
 
South East Asia is the worst-hit region, but Latin America is increasingly affected.

In the worst cases it can be fatal.
 
On Wednesday the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will hold its first ever Dengue Day to raise awareness among their people.
 
At a hospital in the Philippines, the scene's all-too familiar; a child stricken with the dengue virus. Carleya Tanala shivers as the fever takes hold.
 
Symptoms include excruciating aches in the head and limbs, a skin rash, and wild swings in body temperature.
 
There's treatment but there's no cure. If it's the worst strain, it can kill - and children are at particular risk.
 
This is the second time that 10 year old Carleya's had it. Her mother Leah is exhausted with anxiety. "Of course I'm worried. All I want is for her to get better."
 
Mulyanto's family in Jakarta saw that hope turn to grief.
 
Almost 100-thousand people contract the disease in Indonesia every year.
 
In 2005 his 6 year old daughter Pangesti was one of them. She died of dengue after 3 days in intensive care.
 
"It was a heavy blow for me and my wife. In the seconds before my daughter died, the doctor called us to say they'd done all they could but they couldn't save her," Mulyanto says.
 
Dengue is mosquito-borne. Scientists say in the past few decades it's spread from South East Asia to threaten 2.5 billion people in more than 100 countries.
 
"The pandemic we're seeing today was driven primarily by economic growth and population growth which drove the unprecedented population growth in the cities of Asia," says Professor Duane Gubler of the Duke-NSU Medical School in Singapore.
 
Now though science may be set to break dengue's tightening grip.
 
The French company Sanofi-Pasteur has been trialling a 3-dose vaccination in 15 countries. So far the results show a response against all 4 strains.
 
Now this mountainous Thai province will make or break it.
 
Since 2009 Ratchaburi has been the site of the crucial final safety trial. Doctors have given 4000 primary school children the vaccine.
 
They're now closely monitoring to see how they react to it and how the vaccine performs.

It's the first time a dengue vaccine trial has got this far.
 
Sanofi-Pasteur are so confident of success they are already building production facilities.

If all goes well, says Sanofi-Pasteur's Jean Lang, the head of the Dengue Vaccine Programme, "the vaccine could be available by 2015."
 
Until then scenes like these will be common across half the globe; health workers spraying breeding grounds to kill mosquito larvae.
 
It's only partly effective but without a vaccine there's little else they can do to fight against the relentless world march of dengue fever.  AP

 

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