Health crisis

First Zika virus vaccine will begin human testing in coming weeks

A child born with microcephaly, is examined by a doctor in Recife, Brazil. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The first potential vaccine for the Zika virus will begin being tested in humans after receiving clearance from the Food and Drug Administration, a pharmaceutical company announced Monday. Ionia Pharmaceuticals said it will start testing its DNA-based vaccine in humans in the coming weeks. The National Institutes of Health is also developing a DNA-based vaccine it plans to start testing in humans by early fall, according to The Associated Press. The mosquito-borne Zika virus can lead to severe birth defects when it infects pregnant women and has spread rapidly in tropical climates over the past year.

The vaccine developed by Inovio will introduce genetically-engineered material that mimics Zika into the body to allow an individual’s immune system to ready itself to fight Zika, while the NIH vaccine relies on swapping out material from the West Nile virus vaccine, according to the AP.

The first human trial of the Inovio vaccine will include 40 people and will help determine the right dosage. The results of the first study may be in by the end of the year, though the drug likely won’t be able to be used until large studies of safety and effectiveness can be completed.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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