Protein Sciences reported that its protein based Zika vaccine candidate is expected to move on to human clinical trials by April. Also, the team developing the vaccine in Protein Sciences is now joined by the Institute of Technology in Immunobiological of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. The move comes in the backdrop of the candidate vaccine showing good safety results and inducing strong immune response in preclinical studies that use animal models.

The protein based vaccine comprise of purified protein found on the surface of Zika virus, referred as E protein. The candidate vaccine is created using the Protein Sciences’ proprietary BEVS technology.

People in the know within the company noted that the protein vaccine induced strong levels of neutralizing antibodies in outbred mice, which is a positive indicator for moving the candidate to further testing. Also, the toxicology studies sponsored by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (support program) indicates that the vaccine is safe. The vaccine development program is funded by multinational consortium led by Protein Sciences.

The consortium is made of five international partners: Mundo Sano and Sinergium Biotech in Argentina, Liomont in Mexico, UMN Pharma in Japan and Fiocruz in Brazil. Currently, Protein Sciences manufactures the protein-based influenza vaccine, FlukBlok.

Interestingly, In August 2016, The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases launched clinical trial of a vaccine candidate intended to prevent Zika virus infection. The study is expected to evaluate safety and ability to generate an immune system response in study participants enrolled in the program. 80 volunteers of age between 18 – 35 participate in the program. In this study, the volunteers are split into four groups each comprising of 20 participants. Participants are expected to receive vaccination at different timings but of same dosages to study the immune response to Zika virus. The study is expected to happen for 44 weeks in total under which all participants are expected to be under the monitoring of physicians. The data is expected to be scrutinized daily and weekly for both safety and efficacy during this period.