Major step in development of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine

Researcher preparing cell culture medium

Researcher preparing cell culture medium

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) has become a common disease in Singapore in recent years but no vaccine is currently available to stop its spread. In 2010, infections continued to rise to new highs with 30,878 infections reported.

In Asia, there were 1.7 million infections across China between January and November last year. Epidemics were also reported in Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea and Hong Kong.

A solution may be close. Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory (TLL) has taken the first step in helping to develop a vaccine through its development of “platform technologies”.

The TLL team, led by Professor Jimmy Kwang, has filed a patent application for its research, while the initial findings were published in the international journal, PLoS One, in July 2011.

Another group in TLL headed by Dr K B Chua, a senior Public Health Pediatrician and Virologist, has also identified cold-adapted temperature sensitive strains of the EV71 virus, which causes HFMD, as potential vaccine candidates. Dr Chua and his team are now performing proof-of-concept studies for their vaccine strains.

Professor Kwang and his team have been conducting research into the EV71 virus since 2009. Their work started after Singapore experienced 30,000 cases in 2008, the largest epidemic at the time.