The first in-person Dengue Alliance meeting took place in India on 6-7 February 2023, with experts and scientists from India, Malaysia, Thailand, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Switzerland present to kick-off plans to develop treatments for this climate-sensitive disease which causes substantial morbidity and mortality globally. The Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) hosted the meeting at its premises.
The Dengue Alliance, launched in 2022, is a global partnership led by institutions from dengue-endemic countries that aims to develop affordable and accessible treatments for dengue. The members of this alliance include the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), India; Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Thailand; Institute of Medical Research (IMR), Ministry of Health, Malaysia; Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil; Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) Brazil; and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative.
As COVID-19-related restrictions lift around the world, many countries are being hit with ever-more powerful waves of dengue outbreaks. Wards are filling up from Colombo to Bangkok to Rio, with doctors and health workers under significant burden to keep people from progressing to severe disease. And cases are only growing: The number of dengue cases reported to World Health Organization increased over 8-fold over the last two decades, from 505,430 cases in 2000, to over 2.4 million in 2010, and 5.2 million in 2019.
Yet there is still no treatment available for this widespread mosquito-borne viral disease.
At their first in-person meeting, members of the Alliance reported on their collaborative efforts to develop urgently needed treatments through repurposed drugs.
- On the pre-clinical front, the Alliance has carried out in vitro studies on 23 antiviral compounds and has already shortlisted potential drug candidates. The data emerging from these antiviral compounds was reviewed during the meeting and the next steps of the work to be carried out was planned. The Alliance also reviewed pre-clinical and clinical data of host-directed therapies (HDTs) for further assessment. These trials are likely to be initiated by the end of this year.
- On the clinical side, the Alliance discussed trial timelines and designs for antivirals and HDTs, clinical end-points for trial protocols, and identifying potential biomarkers and better point-of-care diagnostics.
- A briefing meeting was also organized for representatives of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) , and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) in which all Alliance members participated.
Photo credit: Luke Duggleby-DNDi