There are currently no therapies available for the prevention or treatment of Zika virus infection, making the discovery of vaccines against it an urgent priority.
Reporting their findings in Nature
(online, 2 February 2017), researchers led by Drew Weissman, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, developed an mRNA-based vaccine encoding two Zika glycoproteins that is delivered subcutaneously via lipid nanoparticles.
The team showed in mice that a single dose of the vaccine could protect the animals from Zika virus challenge from two weeks up to five months, while in macaque monkeys, a single dose conferred protection for up to five weeks.
The researchers say that this type of vaccine has the potential to be cost-effective by offering durable protection from a single injection, but they add that further research is needed to explore the effect of multiple doses and any efficacy in preventing fetal Zika virus infection.