With support from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a phase 1/2 trial of an experimental vaccine to combat chikungunya virus, known as MV-CHIKV, has begun enrollment at several vaccine and treatment evaluation units, according to a press release.
The phase 1 trial, conducted by Themis Bioscience in Austria, showed that the MV-CHIKV vaccine was safe and induced an immune response. Modified from the measles vaccine virus, this experimental vaccine induces the production of both measles and chikungunya proteins once inside a human cell, stimulating the immune system to develop antibodies against these proteins that can potentially protect from infection.
The next vaccine study, led by Patricia Winokur, MD, from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, will enroll 180 healthy adults aged 18 to 45 years at the University of Iowa, Baylor College of Medicine and Emory University. Researchers will randomly allocate participants into groups receiving two injections of either low-dose or high-dose MV-CHIKV vaccine or placebo at 29, 85 or 169 days after the initial injection to determine the most effective schedule. Using blood samples provided by participants, the investigators will check for antibody production, which would show that the vaccine is inducing an immune response. Follow-up over phone and during clinic visits will take place over the course of 8 to 13 months.
“Chikungunya virus can cause debilitating joint pain that can last for months or even longer,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the NIAID, said in the release. “A vaccine to prevent infection with this virus would be of considerable benefit to people living in the more than 60 countries where chikungunya transmission has occurred, as well as travelers to those countries.”
Fauci reports no relevant financial disclosures.