A VACCINE has been developed by researchers at the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, that prevented infection with the Zika virus in mouse models.
The work, funded by the National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation (NFMRI) and The Hospital Research Foundation, was undertaken in Adelaide by researchers at the universities of Adelaide and Flinders, alongside Prof Dan Barouch, Director of Harvard Medical School’s Centre for Virology and Vaccine Research (CVVR) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. It is the first study to demonstrate that a T cell-based vaccine can protect against systemic infection with Zika virus.
The team commented: “Our vaccine offers an advantage over other vaccines in development by eliminating the ongoing concerns in the field about enhancement of infection following exposure to dengue virus.” This finding demonstrates for the first time that protective T-cell vaccines against Zika are achievable.
Dr Branka Grubor-Bauk, Adelaide Medical School, commented: “Zika virus is extremely detrimental if you’re pregnant and there has been no therapy or vaccine available to date. If we can progress this work and immunise women who are of reproductive age and most at risk, we can stop the devastating effects of Zika infection in pregnancy and make a huge difference to the health of the global community.”
Further preclinical studies are required before the vaccine can be progressed to Phase I clinical trials in humans. Dr Grubor-Bauk continued: “The goal is to de-risk and create an attractive technology with a strong IP position, for licensing or co-development with a commercial partner.” As well as the development of a Zika virus vaccine, the work could influence the development of other flavivirus vaccines, suggesting an avenue of research into T cell-based formulas as opposed to viral envelope and antibody-based vaccines.