Some 65 years after the Chikungunya viral disease got it’s name, two different biotech firms have started their clinical trials. Themis Bioscience, a Vienna based biotech, have started their phase 2 trials in subjects in the United States in a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition, Bharat Biotech, an Indian Biotechnology company, have progressed into phase I clinical testing.
The Themis trial is a 180-person study at the University of Iowa. The aim is to verify if the vaccine, at two different doses, induces neutralising antibodies and a T-cell response. This is a continuation of clinical trials after a successful phase 1 study saw antibody responses in most subjects after a single dose and in all vaccinated participants after a second dose.
India has a vested interest in a vaccine as it is one of several countries plagued by Chikungunya and was the target of a major outbreak in 2006. 60 volunteers will test the vaccines safety for Bharat Biotech and will also try to determine if the shot can trigger an immune response. The tests have been approved by the Drug Controller General of India based on solid preclinical data.
Besides India, the Chikungunya virus has been identified in over 60 countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas according to the World Health Organisation.