UT Research Finds A Zika Vaccine That Completely Protects Against Infection [Video]


New research from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that the first live-attenuated Zika vaccine was able to completely protect mice against the virus after just one vaccination dose. The drug is still in the development stage.

Healthy adults and children afflicted by the Zika virus usually only have mild or no symptoms. However, developing fetuses are at high risk of microcephaly and other diseases if the mother is bitten by a mosquito infected by the virus.

This has led to a worldwide health threat. It was noted in a press release, via EurekAlert, that pregnant women may still give birth to a baby with microcephaly even though they did not show any disease symptoms.

Because of this, an effective vaccine is needed by women who are of childbearing age as well as travelers who plan to go to areas where the virus has been reported. The disease can also be sexually transmitted and prevention of men from infection could help put a stop to the spread of the disease as well.

The vaccines that are being developed are made from an inactivated version of the virus or its subunits. It was noted that these vaccine candidates were effective in mice and nonhuman primates.

UTMB's Pei-Yong Shi, I.H. Kempner professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the senior author of the study, said that they chose a vaccine made from live virus that has been attenuated or weakened to be safe. It is still able to result to a robust immune response to protect people from Zika virus infection.

This type of vaccine has the advantage of single-dose immunization. It also provides a rapid and strong immune response as well as potentially long-lived protection.

Researchers recreated the Zika virus by deleting one part of the viral genome in order to make the vaccine. The process is similar to the one used in the development of a dengue virus vaccine, which is now in phase three clinical trials.

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