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Posted Sat Feb 6 2010: from New Scientist:
Chikungunya foiled by copycat 'virus'
A VACCINE that masquerades as chikungunya virus might finally defeat the mosquito-borne disease. In 2006 a single mutation in the virus allowed it to burst out of Africa via a new species of mosquito. Chikungunya now infects about 1 million people a year around the Indian Ocean and causes intense joint pain which can persist for years. It could invade temperate regions as the mosquitoes' range expands. Gary Nabel of the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues put genes that code for the virus's protein coat into cultured human cells. The proteins assembled themselves into virus-like particles (VLPs), which mimic the virus but aren't infectious. "We got structures that beautifully replicated the natural virus," Nabel says.
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