A DNA-based vaccine has shown to have great success on monkeys. Testing on humans has begun.
There are currently a few other human trials of other potential Zika vaccines underway. This particular DNA-based experiment is different because it protected monkeys from acquiring infection from the virus. Its effectiveness is very promising in humans since it was so successful on a lower primate species.
Ted Pierson, chief of Viral Pathogenesis at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reported the positive outcome from the monkey trial study. He stated that of the 18 primates who received a full dose of the vaccine, 17 were protected from the viral infection. The other monkeys that were given only one shot were not protected, but their bodies did create antibodies.
So, at least for the primates, the vaccine is successful; it’s just the proper dosage that still remains nebulous.
The Human Condition
Although the findings in the primate study are exciting, similar results are not always guaranteed with humans. The first phase of the human trial, however, will garner more insight for the researchers.
This potential vaccine uses the actual Zika virus in the manufacturing of synthetically created DNA. The piece of DNA, when absorbed into the body, hopefully, creates an immune response to the virus. By introducing tiny bits of Zika into the cells, the scientists hope the human body will create an antibody response. This desired cellular reaction would (optimistically) protect the body against the Zika virus.
More About Zika
At this juncture, we know that Zika is a virus that is spread through mosquito bites, blood transfusions, and sexual intercourse. The virus has been linked to Gullain-Barre syndrome, which can cause paralysis. It also causes birth defects, such as microcephaly, which is brain-related.
Pierson explains, “”The reason why there are Zika-associated neurodevelopmental defects is because the virus is actually infecting the fetus and attacking developing neurons in the fetus, causing direct harm.”
This is why a DNA-based vaccine would be revolutionary for the battle against Zika. The vaccine would create an immune response in pregnant women that would keep Zika at bay (or at least left with only a small strain of the virus.) This would, in turn, keep the unborn fetus from becoming infected, and hence getting the birth defects.
Scientists around the globe are conducting experiments with potential vaccines at a rapid pace. Everyone understands that time is of the essence when it comes to protecting the population from this virus.
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