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Zika vaccine shows promise in early human trial

After three doses of the Zika vaccine known as GLS-5700, all 40 healthy volunteers in the study developed Zika-specific antibodies.

(Reuters)

CHICAGO – A DNA-based Zika vaccine of Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc and South Korea’s GeneOne Life Science Inc induced anti-Zika immune response in an early stage of the human trial, AMERICAN researchers reported on Wednesday.

In contrast to conventional vaccines, which often use of inactivated or killed versions of a virus, the Inovio-GeneOne shot is a synthetic vaccine made by the display of the sections of the Zika virus genome in a lab, and then load them on a ring of genetic material called a plasmid.

This vaccine is then injected under the skin, followed by a device that generates electrical impulses, creating small pores in the cells, the DNA in the cells.

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After three doses of the Zika vaccine known as GLS-5700, all 40 healthy volunteers in the study developed Zika-specific antibodies.

“Everyone made antibodies,” said Dr. Pablo Tebas, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the study.

To see whether these antibodies can be to offer protection against the virus, the blood of immunized study participants was injected in mice that were exposed to Zika. Animals which had received the Zika-specific antibodies were protected.

“When we gave mice serum of the same people before they get the vaccine, they were not protected. The mice died,” Tebas said in a telephone interview.

Tebas said that the study shows how nimble synthetic DNA vaccines can be, because it only took seven months from the time the vaccine was first designed up to the start of the clinical trial. “The technique of DNA-vaccines is very fast,” he said.

More testing is needed to show that the vaccine is effective in protecting people from Zika, and that could prove challenging given the fact that the once explosive epidemic is slowed and there are some large populations now in danger of Zika infection.

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Zika caused thousands of cases of birth defect known as microcephaly, in Brazil in 2015, the World Health Organization to declare Zika a public health crisis in February 2016. In November last year, WHICH showed the emergency call indication, but stressed that the virus found in at least 60 countries, the spread of where mosquitoes that have the virus are present.

Last month, Sanofi SA ended development of the efforts in the Zika vaccine based on an inactivated or killed Zika virus. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co is still working on a Zika vaccine using this approach.

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