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Dengue & Other Arbovirus

This research thrust area is dedicated for the advancement of knowledge in mosquito-borne viral infections with special emphasis on dengue, chikungunya and Japanese encephalitis.  

Research projects under the program include understanding the mechanisms of severe dengue disease by investigating clinical factors in DHF patients, immunological status of dengue patients, understanding the public’s awareness and knowledge on dengue, and also vascular leakage. We have also embarked on Geographical Information Studies (GIS) to correlate the prevalence of dengue to different types of land use and climatic factors.

Our chikungunya research projects focus mainly on understanding the origin and lineage of the circulating Chikungunya Virus in Malaysia, and its neurovirulence mechanism in an animal model.

Neglected Tropical Diseases

Since the most recent global financial meltdown in 2008, many developed economies have taken longer than expected to recover their financial health. Hence, the engine to propel economic growth now rests in the hands of several rapidly developing regions namely, China, Brazil, India, Southeast Asia and Africa. ASEAN is an organization of eleven countries (including East Timor as an observer) located in Southeast Asia.  Collectively, ASEAN has a population of approximately 600 million people, which is about 9% of the global population.  However, a large percentage of this population lives in rural areas which are highly endemic for neglected tropical diseases, such as hookworm, leptospirosis and scrub typhus.

The excellent availability of research infrastructure, efficient technical support coupled with the presence of local expertise with well-connected regional counterparts makes TIDREC an ideal research centre.  The technologies developed and knowledge gained from studies in TIDREC can be expanded to other Southeast Asian countries, where other neglected tropical diseases are endemic.

Bacterial diseases

The ability to acquire antibiotic resistance and virulence has made many bacterial diseases difficult to treat. Additionally, the association of many environmental bacteria and human diseases using animals as the transmission vector greatly magnifies the zoonotic potential and spread of infection. Therefore, the accurate identification of rare pathogenic bacterial species is important for dispensing appropriate antimicrobial therapy and infection management strategies.

Our current research projects focus primarily on bacterial species isolated from rodents, such as Bordetella species and leptospirosis. Other ongoing projects include, further study into melioidosis and enterococci infections.

Nipah & Other Paramyxovirus

Malaysia experienced its first emerging viral diseases in 1999 when pig farmers became ill and died from a form of severe viral encephalitis. About 265 cases were reported, with a mortality of nearly 40%. The disease, which was caused by a new emergent paramyxovirus named Nipah virus, was brought to an end by culling of approximately 890,000 pigs in infected farms. 

Boasting two of the members of the Nipah Virus Encephalitis Investigation Team that received the Merdeka Award 2008 for the outstanding contribution to the discovery and understanding of the causes, effects and control of the Nipah encephalitis viral infection, this research thrust area is dedicated for the advancement of knowledge in Nipah virus infection, primarily focused on understanding the mechanism of Nipah virus infection and its transmission.

Simuliidae Research Project

Black flies are small, powerful blood feeders of domestic animals, humans and wildlife.  They are distributed worldwide and are influenced by the availability of fresh flowing water, necessary for the aquatic immature (young) stage.  Female black flies are determined feeders, typically won’t leave until they have consumed their own weight in host’s blood.

Black flies have significant public health importance in transmitting human and animal pathogens, causing considerable annoyance, and inducing “black fly fever,” a flulike syndrome in persons with multiple bites. Running water is required for black fly (Simulium spp.) egg deposition and larval/pupal development. More than 1000 species, with differing abilities to adapt to different environmental changes, are found worldwide. This arm of research is interested in looking at the diversity of our blackfly species and its pahogen transmission.

Novel Diagnostics & Therapeutics

TIDREC have been actively exploring and developing novel diagnostic assays to detect and serotype various types of viruses (Dengue, Chikungunya, Zika viruses). More recently, in collaboration with TwistDx Ltd, UK we have developed an isothermal Recombinant Polymerase Amplification (RPA) assay for rapid detection of Dengue virus.

TIDREC also has a fully integrated compound screening programme with validated assays for the evaluation of novel compounds of interest as potential anti-(Dengue, Chikungunya, Japanese Encephalitis etc.) therapeutic drugs. This is done by studying molecular mechanisms of binding/fusion, integrase, reverse transcriptase inhibitors, gene-regulation inhibitoring and testing the antiviral drug resistance of selected compounds in clinical practice.

TIDREC is looking forward to fostering collaboration and conducting research to improve efforts towards better therapeutic strategies to deal with pathogenic microorganisms.

Biosafety & Biosecurity

TIDREC is the first research centre in the country to install fully certified modular biosafety level 2 & 3 laboratories for research involving highly virulent pathogens.

At the same time, TIDREC is the only centre currently with a proper mock training facility designed to simulate actual BSL2 and BSL3 settings. To date, TIDREC has successfully trained at least 150 participants over the past 6 years. These participants were recruited from all over the country, ranging from policy stakeholders, researchers, post-graduate students and laboratory technicians from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Defence as well as private research institutions.

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