A Protective Shell

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Science  26 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5969, pp. 1061
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5969.1061-a
CREDIT: AKAHATA ET AL., NAT. MED. 16, 10.1038/NM.2105 (2010)

Originally carried primarily by forest mosquitoes living between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Chikungunya virus has become a growing public health threat in Africa, Asia, and parts of Europe. Infection is followed by fever, headache, and nausea and then by debilitating peripheral joint pain that can persist for months or even years. This alphavirus has adapted to urban vectors, such as the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus, which enhances its potential to spread worldwide. Akahata et al. describe the development of a protective vaccine by expressing the Chikungunya virus structural proteins in eukaryotic cells and purifying the resultant virus-like particles, which resemble the virus structurally but lack the encapsulated genomic RNA necessary for replication. Immunization of rhesus monkeys with the viruslike particles protected them against subsequent challenge with live virus, and the protective effect was shown to be mediated by the vaccine-induced humoral immune response (IgG). Previous attempts at making vaccines for Chikungunya virus have shown limited efficacy; hence these findings offer a step forward in the development of a protective vaccine for humans.

Nat. Med. 16, 10.1038/nm.2105 (2010).

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