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Hopes Rise for New Zika Vaccine

August 5, 2016
Public Health

Human trials are about to begin on a group of vaccines which have provided complete protection from the Zika virus in animal tests. Researchers from Harvard University and the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil have confirmed that three vaccines they tested were successful in treating rhesus monkeys. Twenty monkeys were used in the tests, which exposed them to virus samples from Brazil and Puerto Rico.

Professor Ian Jones, from the University of Reading is one of a number of virus experts who have been encouraged by the results. “The demonstration of protection against Zika infection in rhesus monkeys is not unexpected but is nonetheless welcome as a further step on the road to a human vaccine,” he said. “Of the three vaccines tested here, the simplest, inactivated virus is the most likely contender for a full human trial. Only when that is done will we know if one shot is sufficient, if previous or co-circulating infections have any adverse effect on the outcome, and how long protection might last.”

More than 60 countries now have continuing transmission of the virus, including 15 cases in Florida; the first to be spread by local mosquitoes in the United States. Zika belongs to the genus flavivirus and is most commonly spread by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Scientists now expect phase 1 testing of the ZPIV vaccine to begin later this year.

You can view a full copy of the vaccine study HERE.