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Friday, April 9th, 2021

Research institute awarded grant for development of Zika Virus vaccine

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The Department of Defense (DOD) recently awarded Texas Biomedical Research Institute a $2 million grant through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program to develop a Zika Virus vaccine.

Zika is a mosquito-borne disease that can result in birth defects such as microcephaly.

“If there’s something we can do to intervene for a pregnant woman and her fetus who are at risk, it’s certainly something we want to be looking at,” Professor Jean Patterson, principal investigator on the study, said. “I think most of the work being done now is focused on how we intervene during pregnancy since that is where the risk is.”

Researchers will attempt to determine whether pregnant animals can be vaccinated before being exposed to Zika and be protected from contracting the virus. They also will transfer antibodies from humans who have received an experimental vaccine to determine if this method could protect pregnant animals from passing the virus to the fetus.

Researchers at Texas Biomedical will use marmosets for testing. The primates breed throughout the year and usually have twins or triplets.

Texas Biomedical’s partner, the Trudeau Institute, will test mice.

The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research will conduct human safety testing on a formalin-inactivated vaccine.