Australian researchers hope new discovery may lead to drop in dengue fever cases

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-12-16 8:46:18

Australian researchers have discovered a new class of anti-bodies that could lead to a reduction in the incidence of dengue fever around the world.

A group of international scientists, including those from the University of Melbourne, announced on Tuesday morning they had found the new anti-bodies that can make the four different types of dengue virus (DENV) non-infectious.

The discovery could lead to the development of better vaccines and laboratory tests that eventually could lead to a drop in the number of dengue cases reported each year.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles.

The geographical spread of the disease continues to widen, threatening not just equatorial regions but the southern United States and Australia and possibly even southern parts of Europe.

Published in 'Nature Immunology', the new research outlines the first reported incidence of an antibody that can neutralize all four type of the dengue virus when it is produced from human or mosquito cells.

Co-author Professor Cameron Simmons, from the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne, said the exciting findings could pave the way for the development of vaccines that target all four strains of the dengue virus which is currently not available.

"There is an urgent need to reduce incidence of people suffering dengue, and understand the human immune response to infection and the response following vaccination," he said.

"This unique discovery makes the future development of vaccines that could prevent the spread of the disease a realistic goal and may also pave the way for a universal DENV vaccine," he said.

Researchers analyzed a large group of anti-dengue antibodies from human patients who were infected with the virus. They found a new class of antibodies that were highly effective at neutralizing the virus, which bind to a newly discovered epitope - a unique structure that antibodies can recognize and bind to - that is present in all forms of the disease.

The study was led by researchers at Imperial College, London.

Posted in: Biology

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