A new Zika vaccine given to mice and monkeys made them immune from the virus. Only one low dose was injected and their immunity lasted for weeks and months. Have scientists finally found a cure for Zika?
Drew Weissman of the University of Pennsylvania, who is a member of the team that developed the vaccine, said the dose was from an inactivated virus. Due to this nature, it made the vaccine much "safer and easier to produce," New Scientist reported.
The mice that had one shot of the vaccine were able to remain protected from the virus even after five months of exposure. For the monkeys, one injection of the vaccine kept them protected for five weeks.
"We observed rapid and durable protective immunity without adverse events," Weissman said. "So we think this candidate vaccine represents a promising strategy for the global fight against Zika virus," he added.
This is not the first time that a vaccine was created to fight the virus. This marks, however, the first time a strong and long-lasting protection was developed without the use of a live virus, Health Day reported.
Although animal research does not always have the same effect on humans, the researchers are optimistic about the latest vaccine developed. The study was published in the journal Nature last Feb. 1. Clinical trials are expected to roll out in the next 12 to 18 months.
Zika virus started in Latin America and could result to newborn babies having microcephaly. Other effects are long-term effects for adults.
The virus could be transmitted via the infected Aedes mosquito. Other birth defects that babies could suffer from, if their mother got bitten by the infected mosquito, are damage in the vision and hearing as well as in the nervous system of the baby.
Scientists have been scrambling to look for a cure after Florida became a hotbed for the disease. As of writing, 1,394 pregnant women were reported to have been diagnosed with Zika virus and 38 infants were born with Zika-related birth defects.