Zika Update: Vaccines in Development


On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the cluster of microcephaly cases and neurological disorders a public health emergency of international concern. Both microcephaly and neurological disorders are linked to the Zika virus. The WHO Emergency Committee also noted that given the absence of population immunity, a major cause for concern is the lack of vaccines and rapid and reliable diagnostic tests.1

In order to address the public health emergency of Zika, a number of pharma/biotech companies have made the need for a vaccine and rapid diagnostic tests a major priority. As companies release data on their latest developments of a Zika vaccine, including funding, PharmSource reports updates in its weekly PharmSource Lead Sheet: Drug Edition. This coverage includes detailed information on Zika vaccine candidates, including planned clinical trials.

The pipeline information below was extracted from PharmSource’s database. It shows which companies are developing a Zika vaccine and the development status of each candidate.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals (Plymouth Meeting, PA, US) is furthest along the in the development pipeline and is working with GeneOne Life Science (Seoul, Korea) and academic collaborators. The company currently has two clinical studies underway:

  • A Phase I clinical study to assess the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of GLS-5700, a synthetic DNA vaccine against the Zika virus. The trial will recruit 160 patients in Puerto Rico, with a planned study completion date of May 2018.
  • An ongoing 40-patient Phase I study of GLS-5700 in the US and Canada, with a planned completion date of November 2017. (ClinicalTrials.gov study identifiers: NCT02887482 and NCT02809443).

Themis Bioscience received funding in September 2016 from Innovate UK, the United Kingdom’s innovation agency, to further develop a promising Zika vaccine candidate. According to the company’s pipeline, the candidate is in Phase I clinical development.

As shown in the chart below, a number of other drug candidates focused on Zika treatment are currently in development at Discovery or Preclinical stages. More information about these companies and products can be found in the PharmSource Lead Sheet database.

1 “WHO Director-General summarizes the outcome of the Emergency Committee regarding clusters of microcephaly and Guillane-Barré syndrome.” World Health Organization. WHO. 1 Feb. 2016. 7 Oct 2016. www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2016/emergency-committee-zika-microcephaly/en/

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Judy Nanthavong is a Senior Research Analyst at PharmSource, and specializes in covering events related to medical devices and diagnostics. Prior to joining the company as a full-time, permanent staff member, she previously worked here as a student intern. Judy holds a BS degree in Health Science, Health Systems Management from George Mason University.

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