The National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) released a report on Tuesday detailing how a single dose of either of two experimental Zika vaccines protected mice infected with the virus for four to eight weeks after receiving the inoculations.
NIAID said that this development could pave the way for a potential Zika virus vaccine for humans.
Zika virus is typically transmitted through mosquito bites or sexual transmission and can result in microcephaly, a condition that causes physical abnormalities and malformations in fetuses.
The first vaccine was developed by Dan H. Barouch from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School, with assistance from the Ragon Institute of MGH, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. The vaccine, called a DNA vaccine, contains genetic snippets from a Zika virus strain that circulated recently in Brazil to elicit immune responses.
The second vaccine was developed by Stephen J. Thomas, Kenneth H. Eckels, Nelson L. Michael and colleagues at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Researchers were able to produce the vaccine from a purified, inactivated Zika virus that recently circulated in Puerto Rico.
The research teams said that both the DNA vaccine and the inactivated virus have been developed to prevent infection by West Nile, dengue and tick-borne encephalitis viruses, all of which are in the same family as Zika.
“Taken together, our findings provide substantial optimism that the development of a safe and effective Zika vaccine for humans will likely be feasible,” the researchers said.