A research group from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has just released the results of a promising animal study with the aim to demonstrate effectiveness of a newly developed mRNA Zika vaccine. The vaccine successfully protected mice and rhesus macaques from the virus at two weeks and five month intervals:
We demonstrate that a single low-dose intradermal immunization with lipid nanoparticle-encapsulated nucleoside-modified mRNA (mRNA-LNP) encoding the pre-membrane and envelope (prM-E) glycoproteins of a 2013 ZIKV outbreak strain elicited potent and durable neutralizing antibody responses in mice and non-human primates. Immunization with 30 μg of nucleoside-modified ZIKV mRNA-LNPs protected mice from ZIKV challenges at 2 weeks or 5 months post-vaccination, and a single dose of 50 μg was sufficient to protect non-human primates from a challenge at 5 weeks post-vaccination.
The teams hopes that they to start clinical trials in humans within 18 months. But even if the program runs through the clinic fast, a few years will probably pass until the vaccines will reach patients.