U.S. firm says experimental Zika vaccine works in mice

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a small U.S. drug maker, said its experimental vaccine for the Zika virus can induce robust and durable immune responses in mice.

Joseph Kim, President and CEO of Inovio, said in the statement on Thursday in Pennsylvania that it would next test the vaccine in non-human primates and plans to initiate phase I human testing before the end of 2016.

“Using our technology, we rapidly generated a synthetic vaccine candidate that shows promise as a preventive and treatment”.

Kim said its Zika program builds on its extensive previous preclinical development experience with dengue and West Nile vaccine candidates.

He said in the pre-clinical study, Inovio’s Zika DNA vaccine resulted in the development of detectable specific antibodies in the blood in all vaccinated mice.

Meanwhile, researchers also observed that the Pennsylvania based Pharmaceutical Company was developing its Zika vaccine with GeneOne Life Sciences from the Republic of Korea and academic collaborators.

It said Zika virus belongs to the flavivirus family, which includes dengue and West Nile virus.

Researchers also observed that vaccination generated robust and broad responses from T cells, which play an important role in clearing Zika virus infection.

Although no vaccine or therapy currently exists for the Zika virus, the landscape in the field is rapidly evolving.

The World Health Organisation said last week around 15 pharmaceutical companies have commenced work related to Zika vaccine development, but it cautioned that such vaccines are at least 18 months away from any large-scale trials.