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Emerging and Re-emerging Infection Disease in Taiwan

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I. Introduction

With the Global warming, climate change, and global travel, new infectious diseases spread faster and farther than ever before. To protect Taiwan from the threat of infectious diseases, Ministry of Science and Technology promotes "Emerging and Re-emerging Infection Disease in Taiwan" program to investigate new infectious diseases in Taiwan and neighbouring countries. The expected goal is to strengthen cooperation with partner governments and establish a niche to grow bilateral industries.

II. Highlights

1. In order to understand Singapore's research on prevention and treatment of Chikungunya fever and to establish a cooperation project, professor Tzong-Yuan Wu and Dr. Chang-Chi Lin visited the National Environmental Agency, Environment Health Institute, Singapore to conduct a study of ex-situ hosted by the Group leader Dr. Chong Chee Seng. Professor Wu and his team's project "Bilateral International Cooperative Project" is funded by Ministry of Science and Technology to develop the anti-CHIKV drug screening system and will be able to combine the natural resources in Singapore's tropical regions for drug development. They developed a novel serum antibodies detection method in CHIKV infected patients: Bac-CHIK MAC ELISA and has applied for patents in Taiwan, the United States, Malaysia, Singapore and India.


2. It is estimated that 390 million peoples infected by dengue virus (DENV) every year, which can cause threatening dengue hemorrhage fever and dengue shock syndrome. Even though a DENV structural protein-based dengue vaccine has been approved and licensed by Sanofi, the unequal efficiency against different serotypes of DENV and the risk of side effect from antibody dependent enhancement (ADE) make it controversial. To solve the problem, professor Trai-Ming Yeh and his team have developed an optimized dengue vaccine focused on DENV nonstructural protein 1 (NS1). Recently, many studies indicated that NS1 plays important roles in dengue hemorrhage and coagulopathy. NS1 is thought of as a promising candidate for targeting DENV. They identified a sequence within wing domain of NS1 that could elicit antibodies against all four serotypes of DENV NS1 without ADE and cross reaction. With the help of Ministry of Science and Technology, they are going to co-develop dengue vaccine with bio-company.


3. In April 2018, Prof. Jinn-Moon Yang at National Chiao Tung University and Dr. Tsu-An Hsu at National Health Research Institutes collaborated with Dr. Sazaly AbuBakar at University of Malaya, Malaysia on ZIKV research.


4. In June 2018, two health projects (The Health, Agriculture, and Training (HAT) Program) were approved. The rapid screening platform for predicting severe dengue fever developed by Professor Hsien-Chang Chang’s team is carrying out the proof-of-concept. Professor Day-Yu Chao's team developed a NS1-MAC-ELISA for differentiating ZIKV from DENV infection. In comparison to current guidelines using neutralization tests to measure ZIKV antibody, this approach can facilitate laboratory screening for ZIKV infection, especially in regions where DENV infection is endemic and capacity for neutralization testing does not exist. This novel approach was published in Journal of clinical Microbiology 2019; Feb 27;57(3). pii: e01506-18, and started to technology transfer and commercialization. In July 2018, Professor Day-Yu Chao’s team foster Ms. Fatima Vista to receive the Best Paper Presentation Award at the 47th Annual Convention and Scientific Meeting of the Philippine Society of Microbiology, Inc.. Moreover, Professor Day-Yu Chao’s team also contribute Chung-Hsing University, Kaohsiung Medical University and University of the Philippines Manila to sign MOU on promoting research collaboration with University of the Philippines Manila Faculty and Students.


5. In February 2019, Dr. Sarah Affendi from Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Centre (TIDRECT), Malaysia visited National Health Research Institutes to conduct a study.


III. Related Links

  1. The 6th MECO-TECO Joint Science and Technology Commission (JSTC)
  2. Comprehensive Evaluation of Differential Serodiagnosis between Zika and Dengue Viral Infections.
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