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Dengue fever clue

7th May 2010

Scientists believe that they have made a breakthrough in the fight against dengue fever.

Mosquito

UK-based researchers have uncovered new clues into how the body fights off the tropical disease and think it could help in the search for a vaccine.

Publishing their findings in the journal Science, the researchers from the UK and Thailand, believe the discovery may also explain why those who recover from the virus have much worse symptoms if they catch it again.

Head of the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, Professor Gavin Screaton, led the study and said: "Our new research gives us some key information about what is and what is not likely to work when trying to combat the dengue virus.

"We hope that our findings will bring scientists one step closer to creating an effective vaccine."

What is posing a major challenge for developing a vaccine is that fact dengue fever has four different strains.

Professor Screaton added: “The need for vaccines is enormous but the challenge is that in this case you need to hit four bugs all at once down a single needle.”

Researchers took blood samples from infected volunteers and found antibodies produced in response to the virus actually infect more cells rather than neutralise the virus.

The scientists suggest vaccines that steer clear of a key viral protein involved in the immune response should be the most effective.

Dengue fever is a viral infection spread by a mosquito bite with cases on the increase across the world.

 

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