Health and Fitness

Dengue Vaccine Enters Phase 3 Trial in Brazil

Investigational vaccine to prevent ‘breakbone fever’ developed at NIH

Photo of female A. aegypti mosquito after blood meal.

Bethesda, Maryland–(ENEWSPF)–January 15, 2016.  A large-scale clinical trial to evaluate whether a candidate vaccine can prevent the mosquito-borne illness dengue fever has been launched in Brazil. The vaccine, TV003, was developed by scientists in the laboratory of Stephen Whitehead, Ph.D., at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The Butantan Institute, a non-profit producer of immunobiologic products for Brazil, licensed the NIAID dengue vaccine technology and is sponsoring the placebo-controlled, multi-center Phase 3 trial using test vaccine produced in Sao Paulo.

Dengue fever is common in many parts of the tropics and subtropics and about half the world’s population is at risk of infection. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 400 million dengue infections occur annually, resulting in 500,000 hospitalizations. More than 1.5 million cases of dengue were reported in Brazil in 2015.

Dengue is caused by any of four related viruses, termed serotypes DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4, which are transmitted to people by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. A person exposed to one dengue virus type gains immunity to that type, but not to the other three. In fact, a second infection with a virus type that differs from the first can lead to a more severe course of disease.

“Researchers in NIAID’s Laboratory of Infectious Diseases spent many years developing and testing dengue vaccine candidates designed to elicit antibodies against all four dengue virus serotypes,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “Earlier clinical trials of this candidate conducted in the United States by NIAID showed that it could elicit a robust antibody and cellular immune response after just one dose,” he added. “Because the impact of dengue fever in Brazil is especially large and the country has an excellent health infrastructure, it is an ideal location to test the vaccine candidate.”

The new trial aims to enroll almost 17,000 healthy people aged 2 to 59 years in 13 cities, beginning in Sao Paulo. Two-thirds of the volunteers will receive a single dose of the candidate vaccine, while one-third will receive an inactive placebo injection. Neither participants nor study staff will know which of the two groups a volunteer is in. All volunteers will be monitored for five years through a combination of in-person visits to the health clinic and telephone or text communications from the investigators. The goal of the trial is determine if the candidate vaccine prevents dengue fever and to provide additional information about its safety. Although the trial is scheduled to last five years, the investigators hope to have early indications of the potential efficacy of the vaccine in less than two years. The principal investigator is Alexander Precioso, M.D., Ph.D., of the Butantan Institute.

Additional information about the trial is available at (link is external) using the identifier NCT02406729 (link is external).

Learn more about dengue fever and NIAID’s research projects to treat and prevent it and about the development of TV003 vaccine.

NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID website.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit