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Zika virus vaccine will be tested in Brazil

Joseph Xu / Michigan Engineering Vials from the Leidos production line that will be used in the zika vaccineJoseph Xu / Michigan Engineering

Through an agreement made in early 2017 with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the United States, Brazil will take part in efficacy evaluation tests (phase 2) for a zika virus vaccine. Developed by the NIAID teams and identified as code VRC-ZKADNA085-00-VP, the vaccine proved to be safe and capable of activating the production of antibodies to fight the virus in animal models and initial testing (phase 1) in healthy individuals who were not infected. Physicians Jorge Kalil and Esper Kallas, professors at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine (FMUSP), will coordinate the tests in Brazil. “We started talking about having Brazil participate a year ago, when Barney Graham from NIAID, the inventor of the vaccine, was in Brazil,” Kalil says. “It is a relatively promising and safe vaccine that can be produced quickly.” He notes that the testing plan is being analyzed by the FMUSP Ethics and Research Commission; if approved, it will move on to the National Commission for Ethics in Research (CONEP) and to the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA). Kalil hopes to begin testing in the second half of 2017 with a group expected to consist of 120 individuals. The Brazilian team plans to perform the phase 1 tests once again to check the safety of the vaccine in individuals who have already contracted dengue and take part in the phase 2 evaluations along with teams from the United States, Puerto Rico, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico.