Two vaccines developed by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have prevented the offspring of immunized female mice from becoming infected with the Zika virus.
Researchers vaccinated 15 female mice with either one of two potential Zika vaccines or a saline solution with no vaccine in it. The Zika vaccines triggered an immune response to the virus, which was then successfully passed from the female mice to their pups.
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When the pups were exposed to the Zika virus, each vaccine prevented neurological damage better than pups without the mother-conferred immunity.
As a result of this study, Pitt researchers say they have developed a “promising candidate” Zika vaccine that could be used for a pre-clinical, and eventually, a human clinical trial.
Zika is a viral disease most commonly transmitted through the bite of an Aedes mosquito, and sometimes, through sexual contact. Because the virus is linked to several serious neurological birth defects, including microcephaly and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the virus presents the greatest risk to unborn children.
Pitt researchers are working to create a vaccine that would be administered to mothers to protect unborn children from the effects of the virus.
Of the two potential vaccines studied, researchers will move forward with one that is administered via a “microneedle array,” or a cluster of crystals affixed to a bandage-like patch.
Learn more about the Zika virus by visiting our complete guide and read the full announcement from the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences.