December 4, 2018
Researchers at the University of Hawaii medical school have successfully developed a vaccine candidate for the Zika virus, showing that it is effective in protecting both mice and monkeys from the infection.
Demonstrating the effectiveness of their vaccine candidate in monkeys (non-human primates) is an important milestone because it typically predicts the vaccine will work in humans, enabling further clinical development.
A strong global initiative to battle Zika has produced more than 30 vaccine candidates since outbreaks in 2015-2016 in Brazil linked the infection in some pregnant women to severe birth defects in their newborns. Zika is spread by the bite of infected mosquitos and through sex.
There is no treatment or cure for Zika virus infection nor is any vaccine currently approved for public use.
The proposed vaccine reported by scientists at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) in the journals Frontiers in Immunology and mSphere, via the open access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, is a recombinant subunit vaccine that uses only a small part (protein) of the Zika virus, produced in insect cells.