Experimental Zika Vaccine To Begin Human Trials

Brazil has seen many thousands of cases of Zika-related microcephaly in newborns in the last few months alone. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Zika continues to spread across the world, and many are rightfully worried about its proliferation across the Northern Hemisphere during the upcoming summer months. However, scientists may be about to add a powerful weapon to their arsenal in the fight against the virus: The first experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans is expected to be deployed in the next few weeks.

As reported by the Guardian, the pharmaceutical company Inovio have just received approval from the US-based Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to commence a small clinical trial. The company plans to test the vaccine on 40 healthy human adults, and represents “phase one” of testing – researchers will look at the body’s immune response to the vaccine first and foremost.

“As of May 2016, 58 countries and territories reported continuing mosquito-borne transmission of the Zika virus; the incidences of viral infection and medical conditions caused by the virus are expanding, not contracting,” Inovio’s president and CEO, Dr J. Joseph Kim, said in a statement. “We are proud to have attained the approval to initiate the first Zika vaccine study in human volunteers.”

An illustration of the Zika virus. AuntSpray/Shutterstock

GLS-5700, as the experimental dosage is dubbed, contains synthetic segments of Zika viral DNA, which the body will hopefully see as a threat and kick-start an immune system response in order to isolate and destroy it. Although not yet confirmed by the FDA, Inovio say that this is the first DNA vaccine approved for use in humans in the US. It has already been tested on small and large animals, but in order to truly test its effectiveness, human participants are, as always, required.

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