Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
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 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ 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

New Tool to Study Critical Protein Interaction in Cancer Research
A*STAR scientists used fluorescent molecular rotors to study protein-protein interactions involving p53 and MDM2 in cells.
Thursday, July 03, 2014
Missing Protein Explains Link Between Obesity and Diabetes
A*STAR scientists pioneered a molecular connection between the two health conditions.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
A*STAR Scientists Discover Novel Hormone Essential for Heart Development
This unusual discovery could aid cardiac repair and provide new therapies to common heart diseases and hypertension.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Scientists Find a Promising Way To Boost The Body’s Immune Surveillance Via p53
Researchers at A*STAR have discovered a new mechanism involving p53, the famous tumour suppressor, to fight against aggressive cancers.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
A*STAR Scientists Make Discovery of Cell Nucleus Structure Crucial to Understanding Diseases
Genes relocated from their correct position in the nucleus cause them to malfunction and this may lead to the heart, blood vessels and muscles breaking down.
Friday, February 08, 2013
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
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
Scientists Uncover Exciting Lead into Premature Ageing and Heart Disease
Scientists increase life span of mice by reducing levels of SUN1 protein.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Scientists Discover Key Component in the Mother's Egg Critical for Survival of Newly Formed Embryo
Study finds out that a protein called TRIM28 preserves 'epigenetic marks' on a specific set of genes.
Friday, March 30, 2012
Scientific News
How Cell Growth Triggers Cell Division
Researchers in Jan Skotheim's lab have discovered a previously unknown mechanism that controls how large cells grow, an insight that could one day provide insight into attacking diseases such as cancer.
Probing the Forces Involved in Creating The Mitotic Spindle
Scientists at The Rockefeller University reveal new insights into the mechanical forces that govern elements of the mitotic spindle formation.
Identifying Cancer’s Food Sensors May Help to Halt Tumour Growth
Oxford University researchers have identified a protein used by tumours to help them detect food supplies. Initial studies show that targeting the protein could restrict cancerous cells’ ability to grow.
Specific Variations in RNA Splicing Linked to Breast Cancer
Researchers have identified cellular changes that may play a role in converting normal breast cells into tumors. Targeting these changes could potentially lead to therapies for some forms of breast cancer.
Thousands of Protein Interactions Identified
Thanks to the work by Utrecht University researcher Fan Liu and her colleagues, it is now possible to map the interactions between proteins in human cells.
Are Changes to Current Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines Required?
Editorial suggests more research is needed to pinpoint age to end aggressive screening.
Cell-Cell Repulsion Mystery Solved
University of Basel findings could be important for cancer research.
Assessing Cancer Patient Survival and Drug Sensitivity
RNA editing events another way to investigate biomarkers and therapy targets.
New Molecular Marker for Killer Cells
Cell marker enables prognosis about the course of infections.
Controlling Body Temperature in Response to 'Fight or Flight'
New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that blocking TRPV1 protein causes an increased release of noradrenaline, leading to an increase in core body temperatures.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
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
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos