FDA OKs Zika Vaccine Test in Humans
Phase I clinical trials involving an experimental vaccine to prevent Zika infection in people are set to begin. According to Inovio, the company that manufactures the vaccine, results of these studies—which are designed to determine if the vaccine is safe—are expected to be announced later this year. This go-ahead from the FDA is an important first step in developing an effective Zika vaccine.
The new vaccine uses artificial fragments of DNA inserted into genetic material, which is designed to better stimulate the body’s immune system response to the virus, as well as an improved delivery system. Early studies in monkeys demonstrated an immune response that helps prevent Zika infection.
The Zika virus has spread quickly through Latin America and the Caribbean, causing devastating birth defects, miscarriages, and stillbirths. Commonly spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, the virus usually causes mild symptoms, but can result in rare, neurological side effects. Researchers caution that vaccine development will be tricky.