When vaccine stories develop, it can be hard to keep track of all the information and what it all means—sometimes you need someone to break it down. Here’s everything you need to know about TV003, a promising new Dengue fever vaccine currently undergoing testing.
1. It's not the first Dengue vaccine to be developed
Another vaccine, called Dengvaxia or CYD-TDV, was first licensed in Mexico late last year for 9 to 45 year olds living in areas with endemic Dengue. Because effectiveness of CYD-TDV varies and is approved for a limited population, other researchers are still working on what they hope will be safer and more effective Dengue vaccines that can also be given to young children and travelers. These other vaccine candidates (including TV003) are currently under development, but CYD-TDV was the first (and so far only) Dengue vaccine to be licensed as well as recommended for use in endemic countries by the WHO.
2. It was 100% effective in small-scale human trials
In a trial of 21 people, TV003 was 100% effective in preventing Dengue fever. While the sample size was very small, the results were encouraging and suggest that the vaccine is more effective against each of the four strains than the already-licensed CYD-TDV. Next steps will include a much larger roll-out in Brazil, where 17,000 people will receive the vaccine as part of Phase III trials.
3. Researchers have been working on the vaccine for 15 years
Vaccines against Dengue are particularly challenging because protection against one strain could make you more vulnerable to severe illness (like hemorrhagic Dengue) if infected with a second strain. Because of this, it's crucial that a vaccine protect against all four strains.
"Knowing what we know about this new vaccine, we are confident that it is going to work," Dr. Anna Durbin of Johns Hopkins University told NBCNews. "And we have to be confident: Dengue is unique and if you don't do it right, you can do more harm than good."
4. It could be the key to a Zika vaccine
Zika is a close relative of Dengue: It’s common in the same areas, and it’s spread by the same mosquitoes. That could make the Dengue vaccine a breakthrough in the search for a Zika dose. By attaching a Zika component on to the four-strain Dengue virus, we may be able to kill two birds with one stone.
Any vital info about the Dengue vaccine that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!