Zika vaccine may be ready by 2018
Researchers who are driving forward progress for a Zika virus vaccine say they could have one ready for use as early as 2018.
“There are five vaccine candidates that are lined up for testing,” Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Infectious Disease News. “We’ve made successful vaccines against very similar viruses … so I’m confident we’ll get a [Zika] vaccine, but it’s not going to be before 2018.”
The NIAID launched two phase 1 trials this year investigating two Zika vaccines. The first is a DNA-based vaccine, VRC 319, which researchers will administer to 80 healthy volunteers at different immunization intervals. Safety results are slated for the end of December. If the vaccine appears safe, the researchers will further assess it in Zika-endemic countries in the first quarter of 2017 — when Zika cases are expected to increase.
“Now is Brazil’s winter, which is the reason why the infections went way down and nobody was infected during the Olympics,” he said. “But [summer is] coming up in January and February. If they get another big outbreak, and we test the vaccine, we can potentially prove that it works by the middle of 2018.”
The second Zika vaccine in phase 1 testing is the inactivated ZPIV vaccine, which previously showed promise in animal studies, according to a press release. Researchers from the NIAID and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) recently began enrolling patients in the first of five early-stage clinical trials to evaluate its safety and efficacy in humans. The study — expected to be completed by fall 2018 — uses the same technology that WRAIR researchers used to successfully develop a vaccine for Japanese encephalitis.
A third phase 1 trial examining the GLS-5700 DNA vaccine, developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, GeneOne Life and academic partners from the United States and Canada, also is underway. This study is scheduled for completion in May 2018.
According to WHO, 26 other Zika vaccines are under in development — none of which have reached clinical trials, as of March. Among them include a live-attenuated vaccine that the NIAID developed using a similar approach for a dengue vaccine candidate, as well as a vaccine that uses a genetically engineered vesicular stomatitis virus that was used for an investigational Ebola vaccine. – by Jill Rollet and Stephanie Viguers
Disclosure: Fauci is employed by the NIH.