Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genotyping & Gene Expression
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Breakthroughs in Chikungunya Research Spell New Hope for Better Treatment and Protection

Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Last Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012
Bookmark and Share
A*STAR's SIgN have made great strides in the battle against the infectious disease.

Recent breakthroughs in Chikungunya research spearheaded by scientists at A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) have made great strides in the battle against the infectious disease.

Working in close collaborations with Singapore clinician-scientists and international researchers, Dr Lisa Ng, Principal Investigator of the Chikungunya research group at SIgN, led the team to discover a direct biomarker which serves as an early and accurate prognosis of patients who have a higher risk of the more severe form of Chikungunya fever (CHIKF).

This means that doctors can now quickly and accurately identify patients at risk, facilitating a more targetted treatment and clinical care at the onset of the disease.

Chikungunya fever, caused by the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), is a mosquito-borne, infectious disease endemic to Southeast Asia and Africa.

Since its re-emergence in 2005, CHIKV infection has spread to nearly 20 countries to infect millions. Singapore, for instance, was hit twice by Chikungunya fever outbreaks in January and August 2008.

CHIKV infection is characterized by an abrupt onset of fever frequently accompanied by severe muscle and joint pains. Though most patients recover fully within a week, in severe cases, the joint pains may persist for months, or even years.

For individuals with a weak immune system, the disease can result in death. With no clinically-approved vaccine or treatment for Chikungunya fever, it remains a worrying public health problem.

To devise strategies to stop CHIKV transmission, Dr Ng's team collaborated with Professor Leo Yee Sin and Dr Angela Chow, clinician-scientists from the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, to study how the human body responds to CHIKV infection.

The team conducted a comprehensive study on the antibody response against CHIKV in patients. They discovered that patients who respond to the disease at the onset with high levels of Immunoglobulin G3 (IgG3), a naturally-acquired antibody, are protected from the more severe form of Chikungunya fever, characterized by persistent joint pains.

On the other hand, patients with a delayed IgG3 response generally have less acute symptoms at the start, but are more susceptible to chronic debilitating joint pains at later stage of the disease.

Hence, the IgG3 antibodies serve as a specific biomarker of patients with increased risk of the severe form of the disease.

Collaborating with computational experts from A*STAR's Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), Dr Ng's team also uncovered that a very small defined segment of the Chikungunya viral protein, named "E2EP3", was able to induce the natural IgG3 protective response in preclinical models.

They found that mice vaccinated with the E2EP3 peptides were protected against CHIKV with significant reduction in viral counts and joint inflammation.

This finding raises hope for a new effective Chikungunya vaccine that can offer protection against Chikungunya virus in the event of an outbreak.

Dr Ng said, "Long-term treatment required for the chronic joint pain in Chikungunya-infected patients places social and economic burden for both patients and the public healthcare system. We are excited that the mechanistic insights gained through our collaborative research with the local hospitals and international research partners have led to discovery of 'new weapons' to tackle Chikungunya more effectively."

Scientific Director of SIgN, Professor Paola Castagnoli said, "With increasing threat of Chikungunya virus infection, particularly in Asia and the Pacific region, this significant breakthrough is a step forward in enhancing our pandemic preparedness against the infectious disease. This is a testament to the successful collaborations between research scientists and clinicians in translating scientific discoveries into impactful healthcare solutions for the benefit of Singapore and beyond."

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Colorful Nanoprobes Make A Simple Test
Gold nanoparticles linked to single-stranded DNA create a simple but versatile genetic testing kit.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
A*STAR Scientists Discover Potential Drug for Deadly Brain Cancer
This discovery can potentially prevent the progression and relapse of deadly brain tumours.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Singapore Scientists Identify New Biomarker for Cancer in Bone Marrow
This discovery may potentially cure patients of multiple myeloma.
Friday, December 14, 2012
A*STAR Scientists Pinpoint Genetic Changes that Spell Cancer
Fruit flies light the way for scientists to uncover genetic changes.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Discovery of the Cellular Origin of Cervical Cancer
A team of scientists have identified a unique set of cells in the cervix that are the cause of HPV related cervical cancers.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Scientific News
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Mathematical Model Forecasts the Path of Breast Cancer
Chances of survival depend on which organs breast cancer tumors colonize first.
Ancient Viral Molecules Essential for Human Development
Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Measuring microRNAs in Blood to Speed Cancer Detection
A simple, ultrasensitive microRNA sensor holds promise for the design of new diagnostic strategies and, potentially, for the prognosis and treatment of pancreatic and other cancers.
Personalized Drug Screening for Multiple Myeloma Patients
A personalized method for testing the effectiveness of drugs that treat multiple myeloma may predict quickly and more accurately the best treatments for individual patients with the bone marrow cancer.
Metabolic Profiles Distinguish Early Stage Ovarian Cancer with Unprecedented Accuracy
Studying blood serum compounds of different molecular weights has led scientists to a set of biomarkers that may enable development of a highly accurate screening test for early-stage ovarian cancer.
New Way to Force Stem Cells to Become Bone Cells
Potential therapies based on this discovery could help people heal bone injuries or set hardware, such as replacement knees and hips.
Promise of Newborn Stem Cells to Revolutionize Clinical Practice
In this article Shweta Sharma, PhD, discusses the potential of an Umbilical Cord Blood bank as an untapped source of samples for research and clinical trials.
New Anti-Malarial Drug Screening Model
University of South Florida researchers demonstrate novel chemogenomic profiling to identify drug targets for the most lethal strain of malaria.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos