A new Zika vaccine is showing potential to protect against the virus with one dose. A research team led by scientists from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reported this week that preclinical test shows promising immune responses to both mice and monkeys. They have observed speedy effectiveness of the vaccine.
Senior author Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, a professor of Infectious Disease at Penn said that they are hoping to have clinical trials in 12 to 18 months. The development of the new Zika vaccine was prompted by the recent outbreaks in Latin America and some parts of the United States. The new Zika vaccine is the first potential vaccine that showed remarkable results in preclinical trials.
The previous viral vaccine contains a weakened or killed version of the virus or isolated viral proteins. By contrast, the new Zika vaccine uses tiny strands of RNA that hold the genetic codes for producing viral proteins. These RNA molecules carry information from genes and serve as blueprints for the making of proteins within cells.
Test on macaque monkeys also showed that a single vaccine dose of only 50 micrograms provides strong protection against the virus five weeks later. According to the Science Daily, the powerful, durable protection conferred by the candidate vaccine is due in large part to its strong stimulation of CD4 helper T cells. This is important to prolong the antibody immunity.
According to the New Scientist, an effective ne Zika vaccine would be welcome. In November, the World Health Organization deemed Zika no longer a public health emergency. While Weissman and colleagues are applying their research to be used on other vaccines and therapies.
Trevathan said that there is hope now one of the vaccines show remarkable results of animal trials. The threat is so significant that development of possible vaccine needs to be fast too. If the new Zika vaccine is a successful discovery, then there is hope for the future generation.