The south San Francisco-based pharmaceutical company Vaxart Inc. has started preclinical testing of an oral Zika virus vaccine.
Vaxart is one of several companies rushing to develop a pharmaceutical response to the Zika outbreak, which has spread from Brazil throughout the Americas since late last year. Symptoms include a fever, rash, muscle aches and other symptoms similar to dengue fever.
Vaxart officials are focusing on developing a tablet-based response instead of one requiting injection, an approach they suggest would help improve distribution, administration and overall effectiveness. The company has had some clinical success with its tablet form of the flu vaccine.
“Vaxart is responding to the global call to action to develop a Zika vaccine, given the rapid spread of the disease and the devastating impact on pregnant women and infants,” Vaxart CEO Wouter Latour said. “A tablet vaccine for Zika virus could offer tremendous public health benefits for affected and at-risk regions. We are engaging with government agencies, industry partners and NGOs, and intend to work together with them to develop a potential vaccine modality against Zika virus.”