TUESDAY, June 28, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Experimental studies support the effectiveness of two vaccine candidates against the Zika virus, according to research published online June 28 in Nature.
This "critical first step" is leading to trials in monkeys and humans, "and gives us early confidence that development of a protective Zika virus vaccine for humans is feasible," said researcher Col. Nelson Michael, M.D., Ph.D., of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Silver Spring, Md., and one member of a team involved in the search for a vaccine against the virus.
One of the new vaccines was developed at Harvard Medical School in Boston and is partly based on a Zika strain isolated in Brazil. The other vaccine, using a strain isolated in Puerto Rico, has been developed by Michael's team at WRAIR. Both vaccines shielded mice against Zika infection with just a single dose required, the researchers said. The two vaccines are similar to others already in use against flaviviruses, which include dengue fever, West Nile, and others. Clinical trials in humans are scheduled to begin later in 2016.
"We showed that vaccine-induced antibodies provided protection, similar to existing vaccines for other flaviviruses," senior author Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said in a center news release. "The effectiveness of these vaccines, the clarity of the antibody protection, and the similarity to successful vaccines that have been developed for other flaviviruses provide substantial optimism for a clear path forward for the development of a safe and effective Zika virus vaccine for humans."