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The quest for an effective vaccine against Zika virus infection

European Union funded consortium begins collaboration towards the development of a Zika vaccine based on measles vector

The European Vaccine Initiative, Institut Pasteur Paris, Themis Bioscience and the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives have joint forces and announce the start of the ZIKAVAX project. This consortium aims at developing a safe fast-track, effective and affordable preventive vaccine against Zika virus infection based on specific know-how and technology existing at each partner. The recent rapid spread of the Zika virus in previously unaffected regions such as South Pacific islands and Latin America has provided strong epidemiological evidence that infection with this virus might be associated with neurological complications in adults and with an increase in severe congenital brain malformations of new-born. Consequently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the recent outbreak of the Zika virus a public health emergency. The ZIKAVAX project aims at addressing this urgent public health issue by proposing a vaccine based on a measles vaccine vector developed at Institut Pasteur by Dr Frédéric Tangy. This vector has demonstrated proof of principle in humans and a preclinical track record of rapid adaptability and effectiveness for a variety of pathogens. Following antigen selection and expression, immunisation studies will be conducted with the Zika vaccine candidate in mice and in a non-human primate challenge model that is to be developed by the consortium. The most effective vaccine candidate generated will be introduced in phase I clinical trial. “Developing an effective Zika vaccine has become a global health priority for preventing the further spread of the virus. We are convinced that the use of the measles vaccine delivery platform, one of the safest and most efficacious vaccines available to date, will allow for a rapid and cost-effective development of a Zika vaccine” says Dr Odile Leroy, Executive Director of the European Vaccine Initiative and coordinator of the ZIKAVAX project. Dr. Erich Tauber, CEO and co-founder of Vienna based Themis Bioscience adds: “The combined expertise of this consortium will no doubt accelerate the further development of our vaccine platform for the use as a Zika vaccine. It has already been validated in phase II for a chikungunya vaccine, and we are confident that our established manufacturing and development processes will further support a rapid and efficient vaccine development for Zika.” ZIKAVAX is funded by approximately €5 million grant received from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, which is investing €45 million in research to combat the outbreak of the Zika virus disease and other emerging infections transmitted by mosquitoes. Over the next 48 months, the consortium will work to ultimately demonstrate the safety and immunogenicity of a recombinant measles-Zika vaccine candidate in adults in a phase Ia clinical trial. Quick Facts about ZIKAVAX: Start Date: 1 October 2016 End Date: 30 September 2020 Coordinator: Odile LEROY, European Vaccine Initiative Project Funding: EU H2020 Contact: Dr Odile Leroy European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) Email: Phone: +49 6221 565974


Zika virus infection, vaccine development


Austria, Germany, France