Viruses are very hard to study because of its peculiar nature. They are obligate intracellular pathogens, it means that virus can only replicate only when they are in living cells. So there’s no surprise why vaccine development for Zika virus seems to have no progress. The outbreaks in South American countries like Brazil have no signs of slowing down. Since Zika virus is transmitted via mosquito vectors, scientists want to exploit the hibernation season of these vectors this coming winter. Yes, this may sound ridiculous but desperate times really require desperate measures. They are searching for volunteers in the clinical trials of the experimental Zika virus vaccine.
According to a CBS News report, if health officials approve the proposal, the clinical trials will start this December at John Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. According to the leading scientist for the trial, Dr. Ana Durbin:
“We’re looking at these human challenge protocols not only as an important step in vaccine development but as a means to learn more about Zika. We can look at things that you just can’t do in someone who’s naturally infected.”
This is a big leap to the scientific community studying the virus. The experimental vaccines were said to be promising after its testing to monkeys. The experimental vaccine contains DNA plasmid, which contains proteins similar with the deactivated Zika virus. The conferred proteins help the immune system to build a defense mechanism against the invasion of an active Zika virus.
According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 50 countries have reported active Zika transmission. Outbreaks in Latin American countries still continues to grow.
The allergy and infectious disease department of National Institutes of Health that conducts and supports the research said that the success of the Phase 1 of the clinical trials is crucial to collect data to be able to proceed the research until the final stages of vaccine development. The scientists expect to accomplish the Phase 1 of the clinical trial by January of 2017.