There is no cure for Chikungunya and treatment is focussed on relieving symptoms. There is also no commercially available vaccine but researchers in the US have now developed an experimental vaccine using non-infectious virus-like particles (VLPs). Selective expression of viral structural proteins produced VLPs that resemble replication-competent alphaviruses and immunization with these VLPs led to neutralizing antibodies against envelope proteins from alternative Chikungunya strains. Rhesus macaques produced high-titre neutralizing antibodies that protected against viremia after high-dose challenge. When the monkey antibodies were transferred into immunodeficient mice, they protected against subsequent lethal viral challenge, indicating a humoral mechanism of protection. VLPs could potentially be developed to offer protection from other alphaviruses such as O’nyong’nyong virus, Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus. Virus-like particle based-vaccines against human papillomavirus and hepatitis B virus have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.