Potential Zika Virus Vaccine: French Pharma Firm & US Army Has Come Up With The Most Advanced In Development To Combat The Virus

French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur has teamed up with the United States government to develop a potential vaccine for the Zika virus. Sanofi said the potential vaccine could also work on other flaviviruses that are transmitted by the same species of mosquito responsible for the Zika outbreak.

Collaborative Effort

The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, or WRAIR, will hand over its inactivated Zika virus technology to Sanofi as part of the two groups' broad collaboration, according to the U.S. News & World Report. WRAIR is responsive to U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Army requirements.

Sanofi said Zika, dengue, Chikungunya, and yellow fever are all transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. John Shiver, senior vice president for research and development at Sanofi Pasteur, said the flaviviruses mentioned above have similar genetic parts and the company has already licensed vaccines against that family of viruses.

Sanofi is the sole drug manufacturer giant developing a vaccine against Zika virus, Reuters noted. However, more than a dozen smaller biotechnology companies and groups are working on similar vaccines as well.

One Of The Most Advanced In Development

Sanofi and WRAIR's Zika virus vaccine is considered as one of the most developmentally advanced of its kind after it produced 100 percent positive results in mice test subjects. Human testing could begin as early as October.

The two groups' technology transfer deal will involve the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The NIAID will conduct the potential vaccine's Phase I trials, while Sanofi will handle the clinical and regulatory development.

Brazil is the epicenter of the Zika virus outbreak, but it has since spread into other Latin American countries and the Caribbean. The virus is most dangerous to pregnant women, who can transfer Zika to the unborn child in their womb and give the baby microcephaly and other birth defects. Zika can also spread via unprotected sex.

Another study funded by the National Institutes of Health will test at least 1,000 athletes, coaches, and staff from the U.S. Olympic Committee for exposure to Zika or viruses similar to it during Rio 2016, The Washington Times reported. The research, which constitutes frequent testing on participants, will track how long Zika resides in bodily fluids and how it affects reproduction.

More than 500,000 foreign tourists are expected to flock to Brazil for Rio 2016. The Olympic Committee is pushing through with the Summer Olympics despite health officials persuading them to cancel or move the event.

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