A novel, synthetic DNA vaccine developed at The Wistar Institute induces protective immunity against Mayaro virus (MAYV), a mosquito-borne infection endemic to South America, that has the potential to become a global emerging viral threat. Study results were published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Since its discovery in 1954, MAYV infections have been confined to the heavily forested areas of Trinidad and Tobago and the neighboring regions of South America. However, a reported case of MAYV infection in Haiti in 2015 and laboratory evidence suggest that multiple mosquito species can transmit MAYV, highlighting the potential for further uncontrolled expansion of MAYV into tropical regions of the Caribbean and Central and South America.
“Although MAYV was discovered a long time ago and can cause severe health complications, it remains a neglected disease and is understudied,” said Kar Muthumani, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases at The Wistar Institute and assistant professor in Wistar’s Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center. “The potential for this virus to spread beyond its historical geographic range, as Zika virus did a few years ago, makes the creation of an effective immunization strategy even more pressing.”
Similar to infections caused by dengue or chikungunya viruses, MAYV infection causes fever, rash, headache, nausea, and vomiting for prolonged periods in many people and can lead to persistent and debilitating muscle and joint pain in some patients. There are no approved treatments or preventative medicines for Mayaro fever.
Read more at The Wistar Institute