Zika Breaking News

Zika breaking news brought to you by Zika News.

Jan 25, 2023 • 5:26 pm CST
U.S. USPTO 2023

A clinical-stage biotechnology company announced today good news regarding its Zika virus (ZIKV) vaccine candidate, which was recently found very effective in a preclinical study.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued GeoVax Labs Inc. a Notice of Allowance for Patent Application No. 17/000,768 titled, "Method for Generating a ZIKV Immune Response Utilizing a Recombinant Modified Vaccinia Ankara Vector Encoding the NS1 Protein."

The claims to be granted in the patent cover GeoVax's MVA vector comprising a nucleic acid sequence encoding a ZIKV nonstructural (NS1) protein, of which the GEO-ZM02 vaccine candidate is designed.

"Our novel Zika vaccine, GEO-ZM02, is constructed using our modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vector platform," stated GeoVax CEO David Dodd in a press release on January 25, 2023. 

"Preclinical studies demonstrated a single dose of GEO-ZM02 provided 100% protection against a lethal dose of Zika virus."

"Addressing many of the world's most threatening infectious diseases is part of our vision and corporate priorities for MVA's applications, including an MVA-based next-generation COVID-19 vaccine currently in Phase 2 clinical trials."

With an outstanding safety record, MVA has great potential to address the unmet need to vaccinate women of childbearing age and newborns against ZIKV.

A pathogen endemic in various areas of the world, ZIKV is linked to an increase in infant microcephaly and neurodegenerative disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, in adults.

Numerous public health officials recommend avoiding exposure to ZIKV, delaying pregnancy, and following basic supportive care (fluids, rest, and acetaminophen) after infection.

GEO-ZM02 is designed to function through the induction of T-cell responses rather than antibodies to eliminate the risk of Antibody Dependent Enhancement, a serious side effect observed in flavivirus infections when an individual does not have a fully protective immune response from vaccination or a previous infection that causes a more serious disease if infected.

ZIKV is a member of the Flaviviridae family, which includes other significant pathogens such as dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile viruses.

GeoVax Labs, Inc. is developing novel therapies and vaccines for cancers and many of the world's most threatening infectious diseases. 

As of January 25, 2023, the U.S. FDA has not approved a Zika prevention vaccine.

Note: The USPTO provides inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses with free resources on how to protect their intellectual property.

Dec 23, 2022 • 2:54 pm CST
Dr Julio Aguado (AIBN, UQ)

A University of Queensland (UQ) led project recently announced it used a ‘brain in a dish’ to study the effects of the Zika virus, taking research a step closer to developing drugs to combat the serious infection.

Researchers from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences found a crucial element to Zika infection, viral noncoding RNA (sfRNA), which helps it evade antiviral responses and cause cell death in developing brains.

“Our study shows the role of viral noncoding RNA in transplacental infection in pregnant mice and in cell death in human brain organoids," wrote these researchers on December 12, 2022.

“This finding gives us a whole new look at how the virus works its way into the developing brain and knowledge we can use to develop more effective antiviral drugs.”

The next step for researchers is to further understand how a specific viral protein, NS5, interacts with sfRNA at the molecular level and how this interaction helps the virus to escape antiviral response.

“This information will help researchers develop antiviral drugs to block this interaction and combat Zika."

This study was published by SCIENCE ADVANCES on November 30, 2022, and was a collaborative effort between researchers at UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, and the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

Dec 19, 2022 • 12:24 pm CST
U.S. CDC - India

As if disruptions from the wet and cold weather triggered by a cyclone were not enough, a new threat in the form of vector-borne infection now hovers over Karnataka, India.

The Weather Channel India recently reported that Kamataka had confirmed its first Zika virus disease patient.

Previously, Zika cases were detected in Kerala, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh.

Zika virus disease is now considered one of the significant public health concerns because of its impact on infants.

“It came to light when the serum was subjected to Dengue and Chikungunya tests. Usually, 10% of such samples are sent to Pune for a test, out of which this has come across as positive.” Karnataka’s Health Minister, Dr. K. Sudhakar, informed the media.

With various Indian health departments expressing caution, local residents must be aware of Zika symptoms and how to prevent its spread.

The Weather Channel listed answers to some frequently asked questions on the Zika virus at this link.

As of December 19, 2022, the U.S. CDC has not issued a travel advisory focused on Zika cases in India.

Dec 16, 2022 • 9:52 am CST
Zika cases - PAHO trends 2022

According to a report published online by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on December 15, 2022, there have been 31,451 cases in the Americas this year.

Furthermore, of all cases reported to the PAHO, 2,679 were lab-confirmed (8.5%).

This data indicates a cumulative incidence rate of 3.18 cases per 100,000 population.

The highest numbers of Zika cases in the Americas were reported in Brazil, with 29,117, and in Guatemala, with 1,572 cases.

The good news is that only four Zika-related fatalities have been reported so far in 2022.

Since its first detection in Brazil in March of 2014, local transmission of Zika has been confirmed in all countries and territories in the Americas, except for continental Chile, Uruguay, and Canada.

In the U.S., the last domestic Zika case was confirmed in 2017.

However, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico continues to report probable Zika cases in 2022.

If you are pregnant, you should not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks, suggests the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

If you or your partner are trying to get pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about your travel plans, as the Zika virus can pass to others through sex, even months after infection. 

Unfortunately, no approved Zika vaccines are available as of December 16, 2022.

Additional Zika outbreak news is posted at ZikeNews.com.

Dec 14, 2022 • 10:01 am CST
by Anand Dhumal

According to the local media reporting on December 13, 2022, the state health minister of Karnatakasaidd a case of Zika virus disease in Raichur District in November 2022.

And the state health department is on high alert to initiate preventive measures surrounding the patient's residence. 

Also, in November 2022, a Zika virus (ZIKV) case was reported in Pune, Maharashtra State.

Pune is located in western India, southeast of Mumbai, and has a population of about 7 million. 

The U.K. Advice to visitors to India includes awareness of the type of mosquitoes that transmit ZIKV. If you are traveling to an area where ZIKV infections have been confirmed, you should consider the following suggestions:

  • Avoiding mosquito bites, especially if you are pregnant or planning pregnancy,
  • Use condoms and contraception if you are sexually active during travel and on your return home for two months (female) or three months (male),
  • If you are pregnant, check with your travel insurance company that you (and your baby) are covered under the policy before booking your trip,

As of December 14, 2022, there are no approved Zika vaccines.

Dec 12, 2022 • 10:53 pm CST
by Manhal M.

Recent research based in Brazil and published in The Lancet Regional Health – Americas reported that about 33% of children born to Zika-infected mothers presented with at least one abnormality compatible with exposure to the Zika virus before birth.

Published on November 30, 2022, and using data from the Zika Brazilian Cohorts Consortiumthis, this meta-analysis of 13 cohorts study found the most common manifestations included neurological impairments, such as seizures or problems with moving or swallowing, brain imaging abnormalities, altered hearing and vision, and microcephaly.

The absolute risks were:

  • 2.6% for microcephaly at birth or first evaluation,
  • 4.0% for microcephaly at any time during follow-up,
  • 7.9% for neuroimaging abnormalities,
  • 18.7% for functional neurological abnormalities,
  • 4.0% for ophthalmic abnormalities,
  • 6.4% for auditory abnormalities,
  • 0.6% for arthrogryposis, and,
  • 1.5% for dysphagia.

This risk was similar in all sites studied and in different socioeconomic conditions, indicating that there are not likely to be other factors modifying this association.

This study's funding originated from the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development - Brazil and others.

Dec 10, 2022 • 10:57 am CST
UK Embassy

The British Embassy in Mexico City recently announced Dr. Reyes Sandoval explained, "Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable people who often live in the most precarious environments."

"These are places where rubbish and water accumulate, creating the perfect combination for mosquitoes to breed and spread disease."

Thanks to the U.K.'s Newton Fund for science and innovation, Dr. Sandoval received two different grants to further investigations on mosquito-borne infectious diseases. 

In the case of Chikungunya, people suffering from the disease may develop rheumatoid arthritis, which significantly impairs their mobility.

A severe form of Dengue can cause extreme bleeding, sudden blood pressure drops, and even death.

And Zika, on the other hand, has a predilection for infecting cells of the nervous system, causing microcephaly in newborns.

Dr. Sandoval also described in an embassy statement on December 7, 2022, how the Newton Fund strengthened scientific partnerships between the U.K. and Mexico.

"This work created a strong link between the University of Oxford and universities in Michoacán, Veracruz, and Puebla."

"These are universities at the forefront of mosquito-borne disease research in Mexico, and we were able to contribute to three Oxford-Mexico collaborative laboratories to study human infectious diseases."

The British Embassy in Mexico City maintains and develops relations between the U.K. and Mexico.

As of December 10, 2022, the U.S. FDA has not approved a Zika vaccine.

Dec 5, 2022 • 9:45 am CST
by Ernesto Velázquez

Zika virus (ZIKV) and dengue virus (DENV) are arthropod-borne pathogenic flaviviruses that co-circulate in many countries.

While two dengue vaccines are available as of December 5, 2022, the U.S. FDA has not approved any Zika vaccine candidate.

To understand some of the pressures that influence ZIKV evolution, researchers recently mimicked the natural transmission cycle by repeating serial passaging of ZIKV through cultured mosquito cells and either DENV-naive or DENV-immune mice.

Compared with wild-type ZIKV, the strains passaged under both conditions exhibit increased pathogenesis in DENV-immune mice.

This study's data indicate that ZIKV strains with enhanced transmissibility and pathogenicity can emerge in DENV-naive or -immune settings and that NS2B-I39 mutants may represent ZIKV variants of interest.

Zika vaccine candidate news is posted at ZikaNews.com/Vaccines.

Dec 4, 2022 • 7:10 am CST
by Anand Dhumal

Clinical tests recently conducted at the premier National Institute of Virology in Pune, India, confirmed an elderly man had been infected with the Zika virus.

The patient is originally from Nashik and traveled to Pune on November 6, 2022. Previously, he had traveled to Surat in late October 2022.

Local media reported on December 1, 202; a seven-year-old girl was also found infected with the Zika virus in the Palghar district near Mumbai in July 2022.

As of December 4, 2022, the U.S. FDA had not approved a Zika vaccine.

Dec 2, 2022 • 6:05 am CST
U.S. CDC

An unusual type of antibody that, even at minuscule levels, neutralizes the Zika virus and renders the virus infection undetectable in preclinical models has been identified by a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian and others.

Because Zika can cause birth defects when passed from a pregnant person to a fetus, this discovery could lead to the development of therapies to protect babies from the potentially devastating effects of this disease.

In research published on November 18, 2022, in the peer-review journal Cell, the investigators isolated an ultrapotent immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody — a five-armed immune protein that latches onto the virus.

In experiments with mice, they determined that the antibody not only protected the animals from otherwise lethal infections but also suppressed the virus to the point that it could not be detected in their blood. 

This research is essential since, as of December 2, 2022, there are no approved vaccines or treatments to offer patients.

Zika is currently circulating at low levels in many tropical countries, such as Puerto Rico, but that will inevitably change, according to co-senior author Dr. Sallie Permar, the Nancy C. Paduano Professor in Pediatrics and chair of pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine and pediatrician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital.

“The important thing is that we’ve got to be ready for another outbreak of Zika,” Dr. Permar said in a related press release.

With further research, this antibody has the potential to help fill that gap, according to Dr. Permar. “There are two potential ways it could be used: To quickly reduce levels of Zika in the blood of pregnant people who have become infected, or as a preventative measure given to those at risk of contracting the virus during an outbreak.” 

Transmitted by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the Zika virus usually causes a mild illness in adults.

However, Zika virus infection in pregnant people can cause severe birth defects, including abnormally small heads and brain damage in their babies.

Microcephaly is defined by the U.S. CDC as head circumference measurements smaller than a specific value for babies of the same age and sex.

Zika vaccine development news is posted at ZikaNews.com/Vaccine.

Oct 27, 2022 • 11:51 am CDT
by Nydegger René

Researchers published a study in Frontiers in Microbiology in June 2022 concerning the Zika virus (ZIKV silently spreading in various countries.

India had an outbreak of Zika in late 2021 that essentially went unreported.

ZIKV outbreaks were reported in Kerala (May–July), Maharashtra (July), and Uttar Pradesh (October) states of India (Yadav et al., 2022).

Since these outbreaks were reported from distant locations and over six months, these researchers conducted a retrospective screening of dengue and chikungunya-negative clinical samples from May to October 2021 to understand the extent of the spread of ZIKV in India.

In this article, they described the results and conclusions of this retrospective analysis, which revealed the circulation of ZIKV in Delhi, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Telangana states of India in 2021 in addition to Kerala, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh.

And co-infections with Zika, dengue, and chikungunya were another concern in many places in India.

The retrospective surveillance for ZIKV demonstrates the silent spread of this virus to almost all parts of India, with a predominance of the more recent 2018 Rajasthan ZIKV strain.

These results indicated the need for continuous and enhanced surveillance for ZIKV along with DENV and CHIKV, emphasizing ante-natal ZIKV screening.

It is also critical to strengthen linkages of ZIKV surveillance sites with the existing newborn congenital disability screening sites in the country to understand the spectrum of ZVD in babies born to ZIKV-infected mothers.

As of October 27, 2022, the U.S. FDA has not approved a Zika-prevention vaccine.

Sep 7, 2022 • 12:56 pm CDT
from Pixabay

Sweden-based TikoMed today announced an in vitro study examining the ability of the company's lead drug candidate ILB® to inhibit infection of human cells by four serotypes of Dengue virus (DENV1-4), two strains of Zika virus (African and Asian), and Yellow Fever virus (vaccine strain YF17D).

In the non-peer-reviewed study published on September 2, 2022, ILB® potently inhibited infection by all the strains of Dengue, Zika, and Yellow Fever virus in a concentration-dependent manner with IC50 for ILB® ranging from 31 to 343 μg/ml.

Professor Nicholas Barnes, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology & CEO, Celentyx Ltd, commented in a press release, "It is well recognized that infection by flaviviruses like Dengue, Zika, and Yellow Fever virus can lead to catastrophic, life-threatening conditions."

"This emphasizes the clinical need for safe and effective medicines to treat these infections."

"What I find particularly exciting about these results is the effects observed at ILB® concentrations achieved in humans following doses that have been well tolerated."

"These findings offer hope to the millions of patients that continue to be devastated by flavivirus infections."

While symptoms from Dengue, Zika, and Yellow Fever virus infection may be mild for some, they are severe and can be life-threatening.

Zika infection can have catastrophic consequences for pregnant women following the passing of the virus to their fetus with miscarriage or congenital disabilities, including microcephaly, that can be fatal.

As of September 7, 2022, the U.S. FDA has not approved a Zika vaccine.

Additional Zike vaccine news is posted at ZikaNews.com/Vaccine.

Note: This announcement was manually translated and curated for mobile readership.

Sep 1, 2022 • 5:33 am CDT
by Michal Jarmoluk

The Financial Times recently reported Gary Dubin, president of Takeda's global vaccine business, said one of the company's brightest prospects is for a vaccine targeting a mosquito-borne disease, the Zika virus.

Since 2016, Takeda has been collaborating with the U.S. government, which has agreed to supply up to $312 million in funding to the vaccine development program.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited announced that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority had selected Takeda's Vaccine Business Unit to develop a vaccine to support the Zika response in the U.S. and affected regions worldwide.

"Zika is another potentially vital vaccine to introduce from a public health perspective, and because the same mosquito transmits both dengue and Zika viruses, there are some natural synergies there," commented Dubin on August 29, 2022.

Takeda's TAK-426 (PIZV) is a purified, inactivated, alum-adjuvanted, whole Zika virus vaccine candidate.

On January 29, 2018, Takeda's Zika Vaccine candidate received U.S. FDA Fast Track Designation.

Aug 18, 2022 • 8:28 am CDT
U.S. CDC

The Zika virus outbreak in 2015 and 2016 left many children worldwide with devastating brain damage. The New York Times reported on August 16, 2022, how families and researchers find potential cures in the shadow of the COVId-19 pandemic.

About 25% of infected people may develop symptoms, but the illness is usually mild, with symptoms lasting between two and seven days.

However, there is scientific consensus that the Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome, says the WHO/PAHO.

Microcephaly is a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected.

During pregnancy, a baby’s head grows because the baby’s brain develops, says the U.S. CDC.

Microcephaly can occur because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in smaller head size.

Furthermore, microcephaly can be an isolated condition, meaning that it can occur with no other significant congenital disabilities or in combination with other major birth defects.

And severe microcephaly is a more serious, extreme form of this condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected.

Severe microcephaly can result because a baby’s brain has not developed properly during pregnancy, or the brain started to develop correctly and then was damaged at some point during pregnancy.

As of August 17, 2022, there are no U.S. FDA-approved Zika vaccines.

However, several vaccine candidates are conducting clinical trials listed on this Zika News webpage.

Aug 5, 2022 • 11:20 am CDT
from Pixabay

The peer-review Journal of Infectious Diseases published a study on August 4, 2022, that the Zika virus (ZIKV) may remain active in men for months after infection.

While sexual transmission of ZIKV was confirmed in a recent epidemic, the mechanisms behind ZIKV persistence in the male reproductive tract are unknown.

Previously, researchers found that about 33% of men with symptomatic ZIKV infections shed ZIKV RNA in semen, and some men shed ZIKV RNA for over 3 months.

In this new study, the teachers evaluated the semen of 49 ZIKV-infected men to identify immune factors correlating with long-term ZIKV shedding in semen and ZIKV-infected cell types in semen.

They found prolonged ZIKV RNA shedding in semen was associated with male reproductive tract inflammation, indicated by higher leukocyte counts and inflammatory cytokine concentrations in the semen of long-term versus short-term shedders.

Additionally, they found ZIKV RNA in seminal leukocytes and epithelial cells.

These findings from ZIKV-infected men provide new critical insights into the impacts on male reproductive tract health.

As of August 5, 2022, the U.S. FDA has not approved any Zika vaccine candidates conducting clinical trials.

Note: This study's findings were manually curated for mobile readers.