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Dengue Fever Research in NIAID Labs

Laboratory of Infectious Diseases (LID)

Emerging Respiratory Viruses Section

Stephen S. Whitehead, Ph.D., leads a research team that aims to develop a vaccine that confers protection from all four serotypes of dengue virus. Using a technique called reverse genetics, in which vaccines are made using the cloned DNA of dengue as opposed to wild viruses, Dr. Whitehead and his team have developed several promising live, attenuated vaccine candidates.

Phase I clinical trials have shown that LID-developed vaccine candidates for each of the four dengue viruses are safe and induce robust immunity. Clinical evaluation of tetravalent combinations of the vaccines is currently underway. Importantly, the vaccine promises to be relatively inexpensive to manufacture in developing countries where dengue viruses are prevalent and effective vaccination is a priority.

The dengue vaccine candidates can reduce the level of virus transmission from humans to mosquitoes, as well as the virus’s ability to reproduce itself, or replicate, in the mosquito. Because dengue circulates from human to mosquito to human, eliminating transmission to the mosquito vector will help ease the burden of disease, even among those not exposed directly to the vaccine.

Learn more about the Emerging Respiratory Viruses Section.

Laboratory of Viral Diseases

Viral Pathogenesis Section

Ted Pierson, Ph.D., and his research group investigate how the proteins that cover dengue viruses direct the virus’s process for entering cells and how this process can be targeted by the immune response of the host. While antibodies can protect the host using several different mechanisms, including directly neutralizing infection, they also could worsen infection and disease in some circumstances.

Dr. Pierson’s studies on the biochemical and cellular factors that control antibody potency offer insight into the antibody response elicited by dengue virus infection or vaccination, help to identify correlates of protection, and may guide the development of safe and effective second-generation dengue vaccines.

Learn more about the Viral Pathogenesis Section.

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Last Updated February 09, 2011