Dengue has emerged as a global health threat, while scientists still know little about how the virus infects cells and causes the disease. To answer these questions, NIAID supports a wide-range of basic research activities aimed at better understanding the biology of the dengue virus, the progression of disease in infected people, and the interactions between the virus and the immune system. New research findings are shedding light on the mechanisms of dengue infection, such as how the virus enters the cells and how the human immune system responds to dengue infection. Other NIAID projects are identifying the human and viral factors that determine and contribute to the severity and transmissibility of this disease.
Since 2004, one group of NIAID-funded researchers has been conducting a prospective seroepidemiological cohort study in Nicaragua of the natural history of dengue transmission in children. This study, published in 2010, found that variations in climate and interventions are associated with annual trends in transmission. NIAID-supported researchers studying the mosquito vector are exploring interactions between the virus and vector and how this transmission is affected by mosquito immunity, genetics and metabolic pathways.
Much of the basic research on dengue fever is done in labs at NIAID.