With 390 million dengue infections per year and 96 million more individuals showing symptoms, half of the world’s population is now at risk of contracting dengue virus, this according to Dr. Timothy Endy at the 20th annual WINDREF Lecture at St. George’s University. In his address, the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at SUNY Upstate Medical University outlined the history of dengue research in Thailand and shared his key findings and the future directions in the study of the disease.
Additionally, Dr. Endy not only came to Grenada to provide an overview of his research across almost three decades but as part of a proposed incidence study titled “Dengue in a Travel Population: Prospective Cohort Study of Primary Dengue Infection.” The study will examine dengue-naïve individuals who move to an endemic dengue area and are now at high risk for infection, while also offering an opportunity to study the immunology of primary infection.
“The Grenada prospective dengue study is the first of its kind, in that a primary prospective study has never been done,” stated Dr. Endy. “Understanding what happens during that first infection is so key and so understudied that it’s one of the main reasons why we’re doing it here at SGU.”
Funded by Janssen Global Public Health, a division of Janssen Pharmaceutica, the study began on August 2018 and will run until May 2021. Approximately 600 students are enrolled. They will provide blood samples for research surveillance throughout the year with the primary objective of determining what the incidence of dengue is within the student population, as well as the feasibility to support a prophylactic dengue efficacy trial.
“The study will focus on the incidence of infection of the dengue virus in the student body with hopes of providing a better understanding of the host response to the first dengue infection,” explained Dr. Endy. “Additionally, we hope it will help to refine diagnostic assays for dengue which is essential for diagnosing acute dengue and vaccine development; and be a platform in which to test the effectiveness of drugs and vaccines in a traveler’s population.”
As professor and chair of microbiology and immunology and vice chair of research in the Department of Medicine at Upstate, Dr. Endy is considered a renowned expert in the field of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever and emerging viral pathogens. During his longstanding career, he has conducted basic science research in the field of virology, developed vaccine field and epidemiological study sites in Southeast and Central Asia, conducted phase I and II clinical vaccine trials, and is active in the development and management of research programs that are product oriented towards developing vaccines and diagnostics that meet FDA regulatory requirements.
Formerly known as the annual Keith B. Taylor Memorial/WINDREF Lecture, the WINDREF Lecture attracts the attention of world experts willing to share their expertise on topics such as climate change, health needs, and drug abuse and addictions. Past speakers have included Dr. Robert C. Gallo, best known for his role in the discovery of the HIV’s link to AIDS; Dr. Ruth Macklin, a bioethics pioneer; and renowned cardiologist Dr. Valentin Fuster.
– Ray-Donna Peters