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Breakthroughs in Chikungunya research from A*STAR spell new hope for better treatment and protection
Date:3/14/2012

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 characterised 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
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Contact: Dr. Sarah Chang KC
chang_kai_chen@a-star.edu.sg
65-682-66442
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Source:Eurekalert

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