Important to develop safe dengue vaccine, says Malaysian researcher based in Japan


KUALA LUMPUR: It is important to develop a dengue vaccine that is safe and effective for everyone in the long term, and which has gone through several stages of testing to prove its effectiveness, says Malaysian researcher Prof Dr Moi Meng Ling.

Dr Moi, who is based at an institute in Japan, has been developing a vaccine for the prevention of dengue fever. It earned her the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) Award from the Japanese government, presented during a simple ceremony yesterday – making her the first foreign researcher to receive the award.

“This research (on finding vaccine for dengue) is important in Malaysia and I intend to bring the advancement of technology developed by Malaysia in collaboration with other Asean countries and Japan to eradicate dengue and zika.

However, I don’t foresee the dengue vaccine being developed any time right now. Right now, we are seeing how we can use the speediness of the new (vaccine) technology developed for Covid-19 to be used for dengue and zika vaccine as well,” she said during an online press conference conducted via Zoom, which was also attended by Japan’s Ambassador to Malaysia Hiroshi Oka.

The AMED Award is given to those who have made a significant contribution to research and development in the medical field.

Dr Moi, who hails from Kuala Lumpur and is currently a professor based at the Institute of Tropical Medicine of the Nagasaki University in Japan, said research on finding vaccine for dengue was a vital research in Malaysia at a time where the illness could cause much outbreak in the future in view of global warming and travelling around the world.

“Being a former dengue patient myself, I think the research on dengue vaccine is the one least explored, as compared to influenza virus or tuberculosis,” she added.

The researcher had also contributed to a better understanding on the mechanisms of immune responses and severe diseases in dengue patients, and had successfully established biological models for the development of vaccines and therapeutics against these diseases.

Dr Moi had been working on researches on prevention measures of arthropod-borne viral diseases, particularly on dengue, and her primary research goals had been directed towards understanding the basis of the development of an effective vaccine for prevention measures against dengue fever. — Bernama