Search for a Zika Vaccine: Saint Louis University Begins Clinical Trial
Saint Louis University’s (SLU’s) vaccine center will soon begin a phase 1 safety trial
of an investigational vaccine designed to prevent Zika virus infection, which can
cause devastating birth defects and other health problems.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, SLU will test a vaccine candidate made
from Zika virus that has been inactivated to prevent infection. The investigational
vaccine, called ZPIV, is being developed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
(WRAIR), in partnership with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
(NIAID) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part
of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at HHS.
Parallel studies with ZPIV will be conducted by WRAIR, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical
Center and NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center.
A clinical trial will be conducted at SLU’s Center for Vaccine Development. Another
trial will start in early 2017 at a research site partnering with SLU in Puerto Rico,
where local transmission is widespread.
SLU’s trial is recruiting 90 healthy adults ages 18 to 49 for the phase one clinical
trial in St. Louis. Volunteers for the double-blind, placebo controlled trial will
be followed for about one year after they are vaccinated.
We need a vaccine to protect people from this emerging infectious disease that can
cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects in babies."
Sarah George, M.D.
The vaccine candidate that will be tested is modeled after a licensed vaccine WRAIR
developed for Japanese encephalitis, which, like Zika, is in the flavivirus genus
of viruses and is transmitted by mosquitoes, said Sarah George, M.D., a flavivirus
expert and principal investigator of the trial.
“There is no medical intervention to prevent a pregnant woman who has Zika from transmitting
it to her unborn child. We need a vaccine to protect people from this emerging infectious
disease that can cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects in babies,” said
George, who is an associate professor of infectious diseases at SLU.
Zika is spread by Aedes mosquitoes, which also transmit dengue, chikungunya and other viruses. Zika can also
be sexually transmitted. The most significant health problems related to Zika infection
affect unborn babies, whose mothers contract the virus during pregnancy. The virus
may be deadly for these babies, who also are at risk of developing serious complications
such as microcephaly (abnormally small brains) and other problems.
SLU is eligible to conduct the research because its Center for Vaccine Development
is one of nine Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units selected in 2013 by the National
Institutes of Health to study vaccines of the future that will protect people from
infectious diseases and emerging threats. The project is funded under Contract No.
HHSN272201300021I. The federal government has funded vaccine research at SLU since
1989. More information about the Zika clinical trial is available on clinicaltrials.gov.
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction
of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates
physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health
care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new
cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer,
heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.
To learn more about the vaccine research being conducted at Saint Louis University,
call (314) 977-6333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.