Dr. Bunpote Siridechadilok, BIOTEC researcher at Medical Biotechnology Research Unit, a joint lab between BIOTEC and the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University won a 100,000 Canadian dollars research grant from Grand Challenges Canada, Stars in Global Health Program to develop a new technology to speed up the search for dengue vaccine candidates.

Dengue is a major threat to public health in most tropical and subtropical countries. The infections are estimated to reach almost four-hundred-million per year and three-billion people are at risk of infection. Despite intensive work, there is still no vaccine that can protect one from dengue infection. Recent failure of a promising dengue vaccine trial highlights a pressing need for new knowledge and approaches.

The conventional virus-construction techniques can produce only a small number of virus mutants at a time. Therefore, with small starting pool available for analysis, the chance of finding target vaccine candidates is limited. Dr. Bunpote and his team has developed a novel virus-construction method that enables one to build a much larger set of mutant virus pool in a relatively short period of time. In this Grand Challenges project, they will use existing high-throughput assays to analyze the large mutant pool of dengue viruses constructed by their technique as a way to search for promising candidates.

Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada, is dedicated to supporting bold ideas which integrate science/technology, social and business innovation with big impact in global health. Grand Challenges Canada focuses on bringing successful innovation to scale, catalyzing sustainability and impact as well as saving and improving lives. The funds are provided for innovators in low- and middle-income countries and also in Canada. In this round, four researchers from Thailand were awarded these research grants; namely Dr. Bunpote Siridechadilok (BIOTEC, NSTDA), Surakameth Mahasirimongkol, M.D. (TB/HIV Research Foundation), Asst. Prof. Thanat Chookajorn (Mahidol University) and Dr. Yoel Lubell (Mahidol University). Click here for news release by Grand Challenges Canada.