A New Enhanced, Safer Zika Vaccine Developed By Scientists
The incidence of the Zika virus outbreak was noticed initially in 2015 and had infected several, as it was spread across the Americas. Especially, the pregnant women were under great threat, as the babies of the infected women had severe brain birth defects and rapidly overburdened public healthcare systems and hospitals. Zika is linked to microcephaly, a birth defect when it infects pregnant women. It can result in offspring being born with brain damage and abnormally small heads.
Since then, several academic laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, and governments have developed vaccines and are in constant attempt to find a solution in order to effectively stop this deadly infection.
Even though the spread was controlled, the World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned that several individuals can still be infected in the coming years in the Americas. At present, there are no licensed therapeutics or vaccines available to fight Zika, even though a $100 Million US government-led clinical trial is on the move.
Now, Arizona State University (ASU) has taken a leap forward in improving Zika prevention attempts. A scientist from the ASU Biodesign Institute, Qiang Shawn Chen, has directed his team to produce a plant-based Zika vaccine,which can be safer, potent, and inexpensive to produce.Chen said, “Our vaccine providesenhanced safety and potentially decreases the cost of production in comparison toanother existing alternative, and with corresponding effectiveness.”
Dr. Chen is anexpert in designing plant-based vaccines and has formerly functioned to develop vaccines and therapeutics for Dengue fever and West Nile virus—both belonging to the same virus family as of Zika. The Zika vaccine made by him targets a specific protein that covers the exterior of the virus
His Zika vaccine targets a key protein thatenvelopes the outside of the virus.Producing this protein by itself anddevoid of the perilous virus inside it, it can be utilized to immunize individuals to the actual strain of Zika. The team of Dr. Chen carried out immunization trials on mice and found a success rate of 100% in inducing cellular and antibody immune response to defend against multiple strains of Zika virus.However, even though the virus is effectual, it is not fail-safe and can result insevere side effects.
Dr. Chen said, “We did anexperiment to ensure that the vaccine generates aneffective protective immune response and also that it doesn’t make antibodies that might be cross-reactive for yellow fever, West Nile, dengue, or others.”
Chen, with the fruitful proof-of-principle, desires to associate with the medical community to initiate the human clinical trial’s first phase in the next 2 years.