Building a Vaccine Against Dengue and Zika Viruses

Building a Vaccine Against Dengue and Zika Viruses

Infection with more than one Dengue virus strain—or with both Dengue and Zika viruses—can cause severe disease and death. The public health risk is especially serious in areas where both viruses are common. A single vaccine that is effective against both Dengue and Zika viruses is urgently needed.

Jonathan Lai, Ph.D., has received a five-year, $3.7 million National Institutes of Health grant to engineer a broadly effective vaccine that can provide protection against the two viruses. Dr. Lai will use protein engineering techniques to create vaccine candidates that focus the antibody response on epitopes (viral sites) that (1) are present on the glycoproteins of both Dengue and Zika viruses and (2) are targeted by antibodies that protect against disease. These vaccine candidates will be tested in mice to determine whether they can elicit antibodies that protect against both Dengue and Zika viruses.

Dr. Lai is professor of biochemistry at Einstein. (1R01AI158194-01A1)