Since the Zika outbreak first took hold last year, and as links to birth defects like microcephaly are becoming more clear, scientists around the world have been racing to find a vaccine or treatment to combat the outbreak. Now, for the first time, the FDA has approved a Zika vaccine for clinical trials in the United States. The first trial, phase one, will likely take place in a few weeks with results later this year, according to a statement released today.
The vaccine, which is currently called GLS-5700, was developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GeneOne Life Science. The two companies say they plan to test the vaccine in 40 healthy adults (individuals who don’t have the Zika virus). Assuming the vaccine is safe, which is the main goal of this phase one clinical trial, it still has a pretty long way to go, including more tests to show whether the vaccine actually works at preventing Zika infections.
All of this amounts to at least a few more years until the vaccine is potentially approved for public use. However, it still represents one of the first majors steps toward a reliable treatment to keep outbreaks of the Zika virus at bay in the future.