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DOH agency says dev’t of dengue vaccine ‘promising’

CLARK, Pampanga, Philippines – The last phase of an efficacy study of possibly the first vaccine against dengue has “promising results,” boosting global efforts to prevent the mosquito-borne disease.

According to Rosario Capeding, head of the Department of Microbiology of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), their clinical trial for vaccine development has shown a 56-percent reduction of the disease.

An agency under the Department of Health, the RITM is doing the independent trials for Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, in San Pablo City in Laguna and Cebu City.

A total of 2,567 children aged two to 14 are covered by the trials in San Pablo City and more than 900 others in Cebu City. The RITM started vaccinating them against dengue in June 2011 with three doses of vaccines at an interval of six months.

“The results are promising. It is important to have a vaccine against dengue but, at the same time, we should not set aside the primary control measure against dengue, which is vector control,” Capeding told The STAR at the sidelines of the ASEAN Dengue Summit being hosted by the Philippines here.

She noted that there are five other pharmaceutical companies doing clinical trials for dengue vaccines, but only Sanofi has reached phase three, the last phase of clinical development before the product is licensed and released to the market.

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“Actually the development of vaccines started some 70 years ago but nothing has been successful yet. It faced various challenges, including the fact that dengue has four cell types, so you have to come up with a vaccine that will be effective for all of them,” added Capeding, the principal investigator in the trials.

Simultaneous trials are also being conducted in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, covering 10,275 children.

The summit has gathered health experts from the Philippines and neighboring countries in Asia, which accounts for 70 percent of all dengue cases in the world.

Lyndon Lee Suy, program manager for DOH’s Dengue Control and Prevention Program, said the summit is a venue for experts to share experience, expertise and best practices to strengthen the region’s fight against dengue.                  

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