Vaccinations have begun in a multi-site Phase 2/2b clinical trial testing an experimental DNA vaccine designed to protect against Zika virus.
The two-part VRC 705 trial aims to enrol at least 2,490 healthy participants in areas of confirmed or potential active mosquito-transmitted Zika infection, including the continental United States and Puerto Rico, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico.
The vaccine, which has been developed by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), entered early-stage human testing in 2016 and was found to be safe and able to induce a neutralising antibody response to Zika virus.
NIAID director, Anthony Fauci, said: “A safe and effective Zika vaccine is urgently needed to prevent the often-devastating birth defects that can result from Zika virus infection during pregnancy. Evidence also is accumulating that Zika can cause a variety of health problems in adults as well. This trial marks a significant milestone in our efforts to develop countermeasures for a pandemic in progress”.
According to the World Health Organization , six clinical trials are current underway to develop a safe, effective Zika vaccine. The VRC 705 study is expected to be completed by 2019.