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Oct 14, 2016 05:25 AM EDT

The University of Pittsburgh Announces 2 Possible Zika Vaccines

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The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine announced earlier that they have developed 2 vaccines for Zika and have had success with their test subjects. Researchers are hopeful this can move them closer to preclinical and human clinical trials soon.

Both vaccines were tested on mice subjects and one is proven to be more effective than the other. This one succeeded in producing an immune response to the virus that was transferred from mother to her pups.

This is an important breakthrough and one of the goals in developing a human vaccine - to prevent impaired development of infants that includes microcephaly and other birth defects. This can also help those who have developed the Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) because of Zika infection.

In light of the spreading epidemic and having thousands of reported cases within the U.S., Congress already allocated $1.1 billion for Zika research. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh hopes to tap on this to fund their vaccines' human clinical trials within a year.

The study's senior author, Dr. Andrea Gambotto said, "We've not only developed a promising vaccine candidate to move toward larger pre-clinical and, eventually, human clinical trials, but also a delivery format that would be inexpensive to produce and distribute to hundreds of thousands of people."

The study was published online last October 3rd in the EBioMedicine Journal and identified the vaccines as Ad5.ZIKV-Efl and ZIKV-rEfl.

Findings from the study reported, "Pups born to mice immunized with [the one Pitt vaccine] were all protected against lethal challenge infection without weight loss or neurological signs, while 50 percent of the pups born to dams immunized with the second Pitt virus were protected."

Viral transmission is mostly from mosquito bites, specifically those of the Aedes species. It can also be acquired from sexual transmission. Countries in Central and South America now has epidemic levels of Zika cases.

Five more vaccines are being developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) slated for human clinical trials last August.

Apart from the NIAID, other pharmaceutical companies are also hoping to develop a vaccine. The process of developing a vaccine and having it approved takes about an average of 7-10 years.

Once a vaccine is developed, it will be tested on mice and then monkeys. Once those tests are successful, it will then go through a rigid 3-part human clinical trials to determine effectiveness before being presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval.

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