The immunotherapy company Immunovaccine Inc. announced Thursday that it will puts its resources behind the global effort to develop an effective vaccine for the Zika virus.
Zika virus is a virus transmitted by infected mosquitos that causes fever, rash and other symptoms similar to dengue fever. Since propagating in Brazil late last year, the virus has been moving steadily through the Americas. There is no cure or vaccine available, though companies like Immunovaccine are scrambling to develop a solution to help push back against the virus' spread.
"Immunovaccine's unique oil-based delivery system has produced elevated and durable immune responses with a consistent safety profile in several disease areas," Immunovaccine CEO Marc Mansour said. "Successful preclinical proof-of-concept studies will allow us to move quickly towards clinical trials as we join the global effort to develop a vaccine against this disease that has the potential to spread rapidly in previously unaffected populations."
Company officials hope to use the lessons learned from developing vaccines for other international outbreaks such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
"We have previously worked with the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. to formulate vaccines that promise to provide fast-acting and long-lasting single-dose protection against anthrax and Ebola virus," Immunovaccine Director of Research Marianne Stanford said. "This new program will extend that work. The single-dose, rapid-response potential of DepoVax will be particularly useful when immunizing populations against Zika virus, as repeated immunizations can be logistically difficult to implement and can significantly delay protection."
Though the disease continues to spread widely, there have been no deaths attributed directly to Zika virus, according to the World Health Organization.