Dengue is caused by dengue virus (DENV), a virus which can be transmitted by Aedes mosquitos. Currently, half of the world population live in areas at risk of DENV transmission and infection. Vaccine development for the prevention of dengue infection is challenging because there are 4 different serotypes of dengue and an individual can be infected consecutively with different serotypes. Infection by one serotype make the individual more susceptible to severe disease due to a mismatch between the immune response and the infecting virus. This leads to an abnormal and exacerbated immune answer which in the end results in clinical symptoms of ranging severity. The mechanistic understanding of this phenomenon and insight on how to avoid it and re-direct the immune response is essential for the development of effective vaccines.
Our flavivirus research focuses on following aims:
- Mechanisms of protection in asymptomatic acute infected individuals
Most DENV infections cause few or no symptoms. Asymptomatic DENV-infected patients provide a unique opportunity to decipher the host immune responses associated with virus elimination without development of immune-mediated pathology. We investigated the immune responses in Cambodian children without disease compared to hospitalized children after DENV infection. Here, we found important differences in the adaptive immune response associated to outcome of infection