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KU Leuven-guided association to develop novel vaccine, which protects against yellow fever & rabies

Apr 07, 2017

KU Leuven-guided association to develop novel vaccine, which protects against yellow fever & rabies

Every year, diseases like rabies and yellow fever claim nearly ten thousand lives. Vaccines for both these diseases already exists, however numerous shortcomings which hamper their effective circulation. One of the major concerns of all is the requirement to transport and store these vaccines at cool temperatures.

The RABYD-VAX consortium which is directed by Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven is all pumped up to produce a new, cheap, temperature stable, easily producible vaccine against both the mentioned diseases at once.

Rabies is generally transferred through dog bites. It has almost a 100% fatality rate, and is said to take 59,000 lives every year, thereby making it one of the deadliest diseases on earth.

According to Johan Neyts, who is the coordinator at RABYD-VAX from the KU Leuven Laboratory of Virology, most of the rabies affected patients live in the rural areas in Asia and Africa. Also, more than half of these victims are children. He says that several people are yet not vaccinated owing to the reasons that the vaccines are expensive and have to be transported and stored at cool temperatures.

On the other hand, yellow fever is said to claim lives of an estimated 30,000 people every year, and the vaccination for the same is equally difficult and demanding.

This mosquito-borne virus can lead to many life-threatening infections along with systemic bleeding, jaundice, organ failure, and shock.

The conventional manufacturing method does not payoff sufficient doses. There is an actual danger that bigger outbreaks of yellow fever can get uncontrollable. Last year’s epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola is a striking case in point. In order to only vaccinate 6 million people who were living in Luanda, the Angolan capital, the WHO had to put to use its complete strategic emergency stock.

This is even more worrying since the Brazilian Ministry of Health very recently reported an outbreak of yellow fever.

All designed to be a part of the routine childhood vaccinations, the novel vaccine is predicted to be extremely effective, safe, easy to use, cheap and temperature stable. The vaccine can be given without a needle. In order to gain all this, the medical researchers will make use of a new vaccine technology known as PLLAV that was developed at KU Leuven.

Under the Grant Agreement number 733176, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme granted €4.1m to RABYD-VAX.

The consortium comprises of researchers from KU Leuven, the Biomedical Primate Research Center in Netherlands, the Belgian Scientific Institute of Public Health, and the Animal and Plant Health Agency in the UK.

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