Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus causes outbreaks in the North, Central, and South America and has spread to the southern U.S. in the past, including an outbreak in Texas in 1971. Climate, ecological changes and international travel have increased the risk of VEEV re-emergence. 

Currently there is no approved vaccine or specific treatment for VEE. Medigen is using iDNA technology to prepare a safe VEE vaccine. Medigen vaccine was evaluated in experimental mice in collaboration with the University of Louisville (UofL, Louisville, KY) and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB, Galveston, TX). 

After a single dose vaccination, all vaccinated mice developed neutralizing antibodies. To evaluate protective effects of the vaccine, mice were challenged with the wild type VEE virus in BSL3 labs at the UofL and UTMB. All vaccinated mice were protected from lethal disease. In contrast, all unvaccinated controls succumbed to lethal infection. 

Medigen publications:

Pushko P, Lukashevich IS, Weaver SC, Tretyakova I. DNA-launched live-attenuated vaccines for biodefense applications. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2016 Sep;15(9):1223-34. /pubmed/27055100

Tretyakova I, Lukashevich IS, Glass P, Wang E, Weaver S, Pushko P. Novel vaccine against Venezuelan equine encephalitis combines advantages of DNA immunization and a live attenuated vaccine. Vaccine. 2013 Feb 4;31(7):1019-25. /pubmed/23287629