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Zika Update: Promising Army-Developed Zika Vaccine Enters Clinical Trials

Nov 10, 2016 04:00 AM EST
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A new promising Zika vaccine developed by scientists at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research earlier this year has finally entered the first phase of its clinical trial.

According to the report from Army Times, the Phase 1 of the clinical trial for the purified, inactivated Zika virus vaccine or ZPIV will test its safety and ability to trigger an immune response.

"The Army has moved efficiently from recognizing Zika virus as a threat, producing ZPIV for use in animals and demonstrating its effectiveness in mice and monkeys, producing ZPIV for human testing, and now initiating clinical trials to establish its safety and build the case for subsequent efficacy trials," said Army Col. (Dr.) Nelson Michael, director of WRAIR's Military HIV Research Program, or MHRP, and Zika program co-lead, in a press release.

The development of the vaccine was part of Department of Defense's response to the ongoing outbreak of Zika virus in North America, South America and Asia. Because many of military service members have been stationed in places where the climate and mosquito population promotes further outbreak, the DoD quickly analyzed and developed a possible vaccine against Zika. So far, about 149 cases of Zika infection had been confirmed within the U.S. military health system. These include four pregnant service members and one pregnant family member.

The ZPIV has been proven to be effective in developing resistance during its preclinical trials. Rhesus monkeys injected with the vaccine developed a strong immune response and were protected against two strains of Zika virus.

In addition to the ZPIV trial being conducted at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, three other Phase 1 clinical trials are scheduled to begin this year. These trials will determine the optimal dose and schedule of the vaccine. Additionally, the vaccine's safety and immune response in participants who have already been naturally exposed to Zika or dengue viruses will also be examined in these trials.

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