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Zika vaccines edge closer

Three Zika vaccine candidates presented encouraging results in phase 1 trials on humans (The Lancet, December 4). Two formulations of a DNA vaccine developed by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the US were administered to 125 healthy American volunteers aged 18–50. In both cases, the immunization was well tolerated. The most effective version of the vaccine stimulated an immune response in at least 77% of participants, and its efficacy is now being tested in about 2,500 volunteers from the Americas (phase 2 trials). Another vaccine made from inactivated Zika virus underwent phase 1 testing on 55 American adults. Developed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), the vaccine provided protection against the Zika virus in 90% of participants. Just before the NIAID and WRAIR results were released, another DNA vaccine also showed good prospects. Created by GeneOne Life Sciences and Inovio, it provoked an immune response in at least 80% of the 40 volunteers given the vaccine (The New England Journal, October 4).