DNA-based Zika vaccine shows positive results in early human trial

Sherry Tadeja
PUBLISHED October 5, 2017 03:32 pm
Photo from NBC News/Website

(Inside Manila) An in-the-works Zika-virus vaccine has produced positive results after recent human and animal trial tests.

DNA-based Zika-vaccine from Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. and South Korea's GeneOne Life Science is a synthetic vaccine made by reproducing sections of the Zika virus genome in a laboratory before loading them into a ring of genetic material called plasmid.

The vaccine was then injected beneath the skin and was followed by a device that generated electrical impulses and allowed DNA to pass into cell by creating small pores.

Remarkably the Zika-vaccine known as GLS-5700 injected in all 40 healthy volunteers developed Zika-specific antibodies.

"Everybody made antibodies," said Dr. Pablo Tebas, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania who led the study.

The antibodies also produced positive results when blood from immunized study participants were injected to mice who was then exposed to Zika. Animals who recieved these Zika-antibodies were protected.

Tebas informs how fast synthetic DNA vaccines can be, with only seven months since it was first designed until the start of the clinical trial. "This technique of making DNA vaccines is very fast," he said.

The DNA vaccine needs to be tested further to see how effective it can be protecting people from the deadly disease. However this could be challenging with the disease slowly dying down and only a few large populations are now at risk for Zika infection.

Last February 2016, Zika was declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) after it caused thousands of birth defect known as microcephaly in Brazil in 2015. -with a report from Reuters



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