Zika Virus Vaccine
An Experimental Zika Vaccine Has Been Approved for Human Trial by the FDA
Today, pharmaceutical company Inovio there’s a virus vaccine in the works, and it just got approval to move forward with a human trial.
The FDA gave Inovio Pharmaceuticals the green light to start safety tests of the vaccine, which is DNA-based. The vaccine will introduce genetically engineered material that mimics Zika into people’s bodies, ideally priming their immune systems to fight the real mosquito-borne virus—much like the vaccines for other standard viruses, like the flu.
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The company says it plans to enroll 40 healthy people in the human trial to evaluate the vaccine’s safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity (i.e., the ability to induce an immune response in the body).
There are currently no licensed drugs or vaccines to combat Zika and its consequences, the most serious of which involve birth defects in pregnant women. The National Institute of Health has said that this fall it expects to begin testing its own DNA-based vaccine, which will differ from Inovio’s in that the NIH’s will involve swapping out genetic material from its experimental West Nile virus vaccine.
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French and Indian drugmakers are also in the race to develop Zika vaccines, which Reuters reports will start rolling out next year.
If all goes well, it looks like the world could have an antidote to this scary virus within sight. Inovio CEO and president Dr. J. Joseph Kim said the company plans to report the human trial’s results later this year.
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