OCT 05, 2017 01:19 PM PDT
Brand New DNA-Based Zika Vaccine Provides Complete Protection
WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
2 9 402

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
FEB 09, 2018
Immunology
FEB 09, 2018
How the Immune System Determines Friend From Foe
It is the immune system’s duty to distinguish helpful bacteria from harmful bacteria. Thanks to millions of years of humans and bacteria evolving in
FEB 20, 2018
Immunology
FEB 20, 2018
Your Personal History with the Flu Impacts How You'll Respond to the Vaccine
Don’t dismiss the seasonal flu vaccine just yet. There may be more to its ineffectiveness than meets the scientific eye - and scientists from the Uni
MAR 15, 2018
Immunology
MAR 15, 2018
B Cells Discovered to Help Insulate Neurons in the Brain
Immune cells have been discovered to play a surprising role in helping neurons send messages from the brain to the body. From Osaka University, scientists
APR 17, 2018
Immunology
APR 17, 2018
New Experimental Model for ALS and MS Immunotherapies
A new mouse model allows researchers to study the impact of immune cell function in the brain on diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and mult
APR 18, 2018
Health & Medicine
APR 18, 2018
Budget Cuts Mean Less Research and Care for Leprosy Patients
Leprosy isn't a disease that most people encounter. It's quite rare in the US, and there aren't many healthcare providers that are experienced
APR 20, 2018
Immunology
APR 20, 2018
Programming T Cells To Have Memory and Live for Decades
Memory T cells: where do they come from and how is their production controlled? Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute believe they have the answe
Loading Comments...