As we discussed Dengue numerous times last quarter, we always tried to keep in mind the concept of "ADE", or Antibody Dependent Enhancement, which is usually demonstrated upon secondary or tertiary infection with the Dengue virus serotypes. I recently found a very detailed article, released by researches at Berkeley (Oh bears..), that explains how this process occurs and that provides very precise data regarding the potential combinations of serotypes that would lead to the most severe cases. This could have amazing implications for potential vaccine developments in the future!
This study found that children who have had antibodies against Dengue virus serotype 3 were at a much higher risk for severe infections if exposed to the subtype 2B of Dengue virus serotype 2. The researchers additionally found that the risk for fatal infections is greatest for children initially possessing antibodies to Dengue virus 1 who are infected with subtype 1 of Dengue virus 2.
In response to these results, the director of viral genomics at the Broad Institute, Matthew Henn, said that "both the subtype of virus you get infected with and whether your body has antibodies to another type of virus matter. If you get the wrong combination of the two, you are more likely to get severe disease."
One of the most significant obstacles in the development of a vaccine for Dengue has been the problem of ADE. If scientists are able to distinguish which combinations of Dengue virus serotypes and subtypes upon primary and secondary infections produce the severest cases, or are able to predict which specific virus types will proliferate in various human populations, a groundbreaking treatment strategy could become available to Dengue patients.
Here's the article if you'd like to read more on this study!