A team of Spanish researchers has successfully tested a new vaccine in mice capable, in a single dose, of controlling Zika virus infection.

The results of its development are published in the journal Scientific Reports, in an article signed by, among others, Juan García-Arriaza and Mariano Esteban, of the National Center of Biotechnology, center of the CSIC, and Miguel Ángel Martín-Acebes, of the National Institute of Agricultural and Food Research and Technology.

The new vaccine, called Zika Virus has been designed following the same strategy previously used by the authors for vaccines against diseases such as Ebola, chikungunya fever, hepatitis C and HIV – the latter’s research has begun its phase of clinical trials and the rest have been tested on animals.

Thus, scientists have chosen key genes in Zika disease to activate the immune response and have introduced them through genetic engineering into the DNA of another virus that acts as a vector to reach the body’s cells.

Specifically, the researchers have relied on genes prM and E, the most important Zika virus to activate immune responses in the body that enable the activation of T and B lymphocytes, key cells in defense against pathogens.

When these lymphocytes are activated, antibodies are produced that neutralize the virus and also cells called T CD8 that destroy the infected cells, explains Efe Mariano Esteban, who adds that this provides a greater degree of protection.

“We have shown that immunization of mice with MVA-ZIKV stimulates the immune response against Zika virus by specifically activating CD8 T cells, as well as high levels of antibodies capable of neutralizing the virus,” adds this scientist.

According to this new work, a single dose of the MVA-ZIKV vaccine is able to control Zika virus infection in mice, effectively protecting against infection by the virus.

Although there are already other vaccine candidates, so far no one has been licensed, according to the CSIC, which indicates that “the promising results of this work reinforce the possibility that MVA-ZIKV can be considered to fight against Zika”.

The next step, says Esteban, is to determine if the transmission of the virus from mother to child can be prevented and take the vaccine to clinical phases, “for which economic support is needed.”

“The vaccine has immunogenic and safety properties that make it a suitable vaccine candidate to prevent the disease and its spread,” concludes Garcia.

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