Queensland scientists are close to having the first treatment for dengue

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Clinical trials for a treatment for dengue fever could start within a year following a discovery by University of Queensland scientists.

The researchers have identified similarities in how the body reacted to dengue virus and bacterial infections.

“We have discovered that the dengue virus NS1 protein acts as a toxin in the body, in a similar manner to the way bacterial cell wall products lead to septic shock in bacterial infections,” says Professor Paul Young.

“For the past 20 to 30 years, researchers and pharmaceutical companies have been developing drug candidates to inhibit the body’s damaging responses to these bacterial infections. So drugs are already available that have gone through phase three clinical trials.”

The mosquito-borne dengue virus is estimated to infect up to 400 million people globally each year. The World Health Organisation ranks it as the most dangerous mosquito-borne viral disease in the world.

Up to 500,000 cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever are diagnosed each year with as many as 25,000 deaths.

“Despite this significant global health burden, no vaccine or drug has yet been licensed,” Professor Young said.

The research, conducted in the University of Queensland’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and the Australian Infectious Disease Research Centre, is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The work has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

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