Zika vaccine to be trialled on humans in coming weeks

21 Jun 2016

US regulators have approved the first clinical human trial of a potential Zika vaccine, with Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GeneOne Life Science the companies involved.

The Zika virus was declared a global public health emergency back in February by the World Health Organisation (WHO) after a growing number of cases emerged.

Associated with microcephaly, a severe birth defect that arises from becoming infected with the disease during pregnancy, Zika has been the focus of dozens of research papers in 2016.

The gradual search for a vaccine sped up somewhat amid the WHO’s growing concern, with several pharmaceutical companies trying to bring out the first, working vaccine.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GeneOne Life Science appear ahead of the rest after news emerged yesterday (21 June) that they will begin testing on 40 healthy subjects “in the next weeks”.

Testing for safety, tolerability and immune response generated from what’s called GLS-5700, Inovio CEO Dr J Joseph Kim hopes to “report phase 1 interim results later this year”.

According to Kim, 58 “countries and territories” have now reported mosquito-borne transmission of the Zika virus, with both US and Canadian academics collaborating on this project.

According to its makers, GLS-5700 showed “robust antibody and T-cell responses in small and large animal models”, which they claim shows potential to prevent infection in humans.

French drug maker Sanofi SA and India’s Bharat Biotech are also looking to develop vaccines suitable for trials in the coming months and years.

Zika image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic