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Zika Vaccine: Human Trials On Mosquito Saliva Begin

By Donna Bellevue , Feb 28, 2017 01:09 AM EST
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Human testing on the new Zika vaccine that essentially makes humans taste bad to Aedes Aegypti mosquitos, the Zika-carrying bug, has begun. The National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has just recently launched Phase 1 of the clinical trial of the vaccine. The National Institute of Health (NIH) says the study is looking at a vaccine called AGS-v, which is effective in protecting against diseases transmitted by mosquitos, like Zika, malaria, West Nile fever and dengue fever.

The AGS-v vaccine, unlike other Zika treatments, is meant to trigger an immune system response to mosquito saliva rather than a specific disease. A single vaccine capable of protecting against various mosquito-borne diseases would be a monumental public health advancement if proven successful, NIAID director, Anthony S. Fauci, says. The vaccine has four different synthetic proteins from mosquito saliva that induce antibodies to trigger a modified allergic response.

The human trial on the Zika vaccine requires 60 healthy adults within 18-50 years-old. Led by Matthew J. Memoli, M.D., the director of the Clinical Studies unit at NIAID's Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, the Phase 1 clinical trial will be conducted in Bethesda, Maryland. One group will receive two doses of the vaccine, 21 days apart, while another group will be given the vaccine and an "adjuvant" to boost the vaccine's efficacy, the Miami New Times reports.

The participants of the Zika vaccine trial will then be exposed to biting female mosquitoes which won't carry any diseases. Doctors will check the participants' immune responses as they react to the mosquito saliva. According to the Orlando Weekly, though the news is promising, especially for pregnant women, or business people with a financial stake in Miami's tourism economy, it's likely to take a long time before any real Aedes vaccine comes to market.

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