Researchers Say Experimental Chikungunya Vaccine Shows Promise

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-08_9d115f7858.jpgiStockphoto/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- Researchers may have laid the groundwork for a vaccine to prevent the Chikungunya virus that has spread to a number of U.S. states after originating in the Caribbean. According to a study published in The Lancet medical journal, researchers say that they have begun the initial phases of testing on a vaccine and found only minimal side effects. The study included just 25 human subjects, but each of the subjects demonstrated a strong immune response and lasting antibody presence.

The disease, which is not fatal, can cause excruciating joint pain and can be spread by mosquito bite. Researchers say their subjects showed similar numbers of antibodies to a pair of previously infected individuals. Side effects of the trial vaccine included pain at injection site or headaches, though less common side effects included increased risk of liver damage and decreased white blood cell count.

The vaccine was created in a similar manner to approved vaccines for Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus. Still, much testing remains to be completed before the vaccine would be considered for a clinical trial.

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