Ronald van Rij, theme Infectious diseases and global health, received an ERC (European Research Council) Proof of Concept grant of 150,000 euros, in order to make arbovirus vaccines even safer.
The research will focus on a mechanism for gene regulation by small RNA molecules in mosquitoes. These small molecules will be used to destroy the living vaccine virus in the insect, when it is sucked up by a mosquito. This blockage will prevent an uncontrolled spread of the vaccine virus and thus prevent the return to a virulent, pathogenic form
The “VIVARNAsilencing2” project will first focus on human arboviruses that cause dangerous epidemics: the dengue, Zika, and chikungunya viruses. However, the approach is readily applicable for all arboviruses transmitted by Culex and Aedes mosquitoes, including those affecting farm animals. It therefore meets an urgent need, considering the enormous burden of mosquito-transmitted diseases and the strong global push to develop vaccines for them.
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