OCT 05, 2017 1:19 PM PDT

Brand New DNA-Based Zika Vaccine Provides Complete Protection

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

The newest leap forward in Zika virus vaccine development is probably the most exciting yet. The vaccine, a DNA-based approach, was found to be both safe and effective at revving up the immune system to protect infected mice from Zika.

University of Pennsylvania scientists, in collaboration with The Wistar Institute, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, and GeneOne Life Science, Inc., created GLS-5700, a synthetic DNA vaccine, which was tested for safety in a Phase 1 clinical trial in humans and for efficacy in mice models of Zika virus infection.

While researchers did not infect human participants with Zika virus to make sure the vaccine was working, they were able to confirm that the vaccine successfully evoked an immune response against the Zika virus in just three doses over several weeks. The safety trial included 40 participants; half received a one milligram dose of the vaccine, the other half received two milligrams.

All of the participants developed Zika-specific antibodies, and a large majority (80 percent) developed significant neutralizing antibodies, which neutralize the effects of the virus as opposed to binding and tagging them for destruction by other immune cells. Participants reported little to no adverse effects, only injection site pain, redness, and swelling, which you might see with any vaccine injection.

"This novel DNA vaccine was developed and implemented in just months via a platform that has advantages in temperature stability, storage, dose, and distribution compared to most traditional vaccines, making DNA vaccines an important tool to respond quickly to curb an emerging epidemic,” explained co-lead author The Wistar Institute’s David Weiner, PhD.

The blood from the human patients injected with the vaccine (containing the Zika-specific and neutralizing antibodies) successfully protected immunocompromised mice that had been exposed to the Zika virus.

"With these new results, we are one step closer to hopefully finding a way to prevent infection, which can cause serious birth defects and developmental delays in babies born to women who are infected with Zika,” said lead author Pablo Tebas, MD.

More studies will be done to ensure the vaccine will be effective at stimulating the immune system and preventing disease in humans. Tebas believes the new vaccine has “great promise” for being applied also to Chikungunya, West Nile Virus, Pandemic Influenza and Ebola.

The present study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sources: Medscape, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
OCT 14, 2019
Immunology
OCT 14, 2019
This is How Your Immune System Responds to Ebola Vaccination
Vaccines to prevent Ebola are still in their infancy, with experimental-only versions being used only in the most dire of instances. In a new study, scient...
OCT 22, 2019
Immunology
OCT 22, 2019
Immune System Responsible for Organ Failure in Malaria
In the most severe cases of malaria, a person can experience organ failure and die. Often times, though, this is not directly due to the parasitic malaria ...
NOV 01, 2019
Immunology
NOV 01, 2019
Immunity to HPV Can Prevent Skin Cancer
Scientists discovered a surprise benefit of low-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV), a typical resident of human skin. New research shows that these harmless...
NOV 19, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 19, 2019
Ketogenic Diet Appears to Help Protect Against the Flu
The ketogenic diet forces the body to use stored fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates; the fat gets broken down into ketone bodies....
NOV 28, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
NOV 28, 2019
Immunotherapy Drug Shows Promise for Treating Advanced Prostate Cancer
By the end of the year, an estimated 175,000 men in the United States will have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Now, researchers from the UK have foun...
DEC 31, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 31, 2019
Should the Scientist Behind World's First Gene Edited Babies be in Prison?
He Jiankui, the scientist behind the world’s first gene-edited babies in 2018, has been sentenced to three years in prison by Chinese authorities for...
Loading Comments...