Aalto Bio Reagents, Barcelona, Spain, has launched the first commercially available protein for the detection and diagnosis of Venezuela equine encephalitis NSP2 TC83, a mosquito-borne viral pathogen that causes Venezuela equine encephalitis or encephalomyelitis (VEE). VEE can affect humans and animals alike, causing flu-like symptoms and headaches in healthy humans and causing serious illness and death in young, elderly, and immunocompromised patients.
“This exciting VEEV NSP2 TC83 launch today marks the first in a series of dynamic new products coming from Aalto Bio in the emerging disease space,” says Philip Noone, CEO of Aalto Bio Reagents. “This new VEEV NSP2 TC83 protein enables our customers to bring superior, differentiating diagnostic end-products to market faster, which will enable faster diagnosis, identification, and treatment of these deadly viruses.”
The virus that causes VEE is spread mainly by mosquitos that bite and infect humans or animals. The virus can spread very quickly, depending on the subtype of VEE being transmitted and the density of the mosquito populations near an outbreak region. In the Americas, there have been 21 reported outbreaks of VEE to date. During the Cold War, both US and Soviet biological weapons programs researched and developed the VEE virus.
VEE normally occurs after periods of long precipitation, which cause mosquito populations to soar. One of the largest outbreaks of the virus occurred in Columbia in 1995, resulting in 14,156 human cases and more than 26 reported deaths. One of the key reasons for the outbreak was the high level of rainfall that season in Columbia. Another key reason for the outbreak was deforestation, which caused a change in the dominant mosquito species from Aedes taeniorhynchusmosquitos, which prefer to feed on equine populations, to Culex taenopiusmosquitos, which prefer to feed on rodents.
An inactivated vaccine that contains the C-84 strain of VEEV is available for animals, and it is primarily used on horses. Another rudimentary vaccine that contains the TC-83 strain of VEEV is available for humans, but it has so far been used only on military and lab personnel. Clinicians have found that the rudimentary vaccine causes side effects and does not fully immunize the patient.
The team at Aalto Bio Reagents believes the company’s new protein will help further the development of a more mainstream vaccine that will give greater or full immunization to vaccine candidates and permit faster in-field diagnosis of the virus.
“Aalto Bio is a leading global developer and provider of high-quality and esoteric biological raw materials to the in vitro diagnostic and biotech industry,” says Jennie Lynch, senior vice president for North America with Enterprise Ireland. “We are glad to support them in bringing groundbreaking technology to the frontier of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.”
For further information, visit Aalto Bio Reagents.
Featured image: Venezuela equine encephalitis NSP2 TC83.