Prokarium To Develop First Vaccine To Protect Against Sexually Transmitted & Insect-Borne Zika Infections

Prokarium today announced the start of its programme to develop an oral vaccine against Zika virus infection. Using the Company’s know-how in synthetic biology, the new vaccine will be active against both modes of Zika transmission – insect-borne (antibody-mediated) and sexually transmitted (mucosal and cell-mediated) infections – the first to do so.

Zika is spreading fast. According to the World Health Organisation, 67 countries and territories have reported evidence of mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission since 20151. Sexual transmission also complicates the spread of the disease in areas where people are being bitten by mosquitoes such as Brazil and Colombia2. In fact, Zika’s ability to spread through sexual contact means that all countries are at risk, whether Zika mosquitoes are found there or not. A vaccine that protects against both transmission routes is the only way to offer the maximum safeguard and stop the spread.

Prokarium’s CEO Ted Fjällman commented: “We use a safe bacterium, which is swallowed and then enters into the immune cells of the gut lining to produce vaccine there. The oral delivery means that we kick-start mucosal immunity, the body’s first defence against infection in e.g. the gut, nose or the vaginal tract. The production of vaccine from within immune cells means that our approach causes few or zero side effects, while crucially initiating cellular immunity, which is very important for combatting viruses like Zika.”

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