May 16, 2022

Zika is spread mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. And while many people infected with the Zika virus will only have mild symptoms, contracting Zika during pregnancy can lead to severe brain defects.  

 The 2015-2016 Zika outbreak in Brazil and other countries in the Americas caused a surge in miscarriages and a constellation of congenital disabilities, prompting the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency of international concern. 

 While there has never been a vaccine or medicine to prevent Zika, a recent collaboration between Trudeau Institute, Texas Biomedical Research Institute’s Southwest National Primate Research Center (SNPRC), and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) demonstrated a vaccine candidate successfully prevented the virus from passing from mother to fetus during animal studies. 

 In-Jeong Kim, Ph.D., a viral immunologist at Trudeau Institute and the first paper author states, “Our proof-of-concept studies conducted at Trudeau and Texas Biomed show very promising results that the vaccine given before pregnancy will provide high levels of protection for mothers and babies.” 

 Testing pregnant women is highly restrictive due to ethical and safety reasons, which is why the Trudeau Institute and Texas Biomed team evaluated the vaccine in pregnant mice and marmosets. The results? More than 90% effectiveness in marmosets, making it a viable approach for countering the persistent threat of Zika in humans. 

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