New vaccination center in Mexico tackles neglected diseases from Chagas to Zika

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An Oxford professor who has been involved in the early development of vaccine technology currently used to fight Covid-19 is spearheading the use of the platform to fight neglected diseases that affect millions of people. people in Latin America.

Professor Arturo Reyes-Sandoval, now Managing Director of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional in Mexico, has focused for much of his career on research into neglected disease vaccines, primarily at the University of Oxford .

In his new role, he heads the brand new National Vaccine Development Center at IPN in Mexico City.

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Professor Reyes-Sandoval and his team are currently working on vaccines against Zika, dengue, Chagas disease, yellow fever and malaria, and recently published promising first results for a vaccine against Chikungunya.

Almost all of them use ChAdOx technology which is also used for the Oxford-University / AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

“My goal was to work on diseases present in Mexico, Latin America, Brazil, because of my background, because they are not explored and because I thought I could make a difference in these diseases”, a declared Professor Reyes-Sandoval. told the Telegraph.

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He’s been working on chimpanzee adenovirus vaccines like ChAdOx for decades, and now that the technology has proven to be safe and effective, he hopes similar breakthroughs will be seen for other diseases that are less in the news. .

“This has definitely renewed interest in vaccines,” he said.

“We have funding from the federal government to start the lab and I think we can continue with larger trials here in Mexico using the chimpanzee adenovirus, using the technology from Oxford. It took years, but I think it’s going well.

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The diseases Professor Reyes-Sandoval hopes to fight collectively affect millions of people each year, both globally and in Latin America.

In particular, potentially fatal Chagas disease affects around 7 million people per year, almost entirely in the poorest communities in Latin America.

It is mainly spread by insects known as “kissing bugs” because they often bite people’s faces, spreading the disease-causing parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, when the bug defecates near the bite. It is curable, but can be chronic and have long lasting cardiac effects.

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