Bharat Biotech, a city-based vaccines and bio-therapeutic manufacturer, on Wednesday claimed to have achieved a breakthrough in developing a vaccine to fight the dreaded mosquito-borne Zika virus, which causes serious birth defects in children.
Bharat Biotech is home to some of the most brilliant minds in the world and began work on the Zika virus a year ago, Krishna Ella, CMD Bharat Biotech, said here.
“We believe we have an early mover advantage in developing the Zikavac and we are probably the first in the world to file for global patent for Zika vaccine candidates.
“We have two candidate vaccines in development. One of them is an inactivated vaccine that has reached the stage of pre-clinical testing in animals,” Ella said.
Quoting a WHO report, he said Zika is now present in 23 countries and Brazil, the hardest-hit country, has reported around 3,530 cases of the devastating birth defect, called microcephaly, in 2015 that are strongly suspected to be related to Zika.
“We hope to announce the arrival of Zikavac to the world as early as possible,” he said.
Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, which can breed in a pool of water as small as a bottle cap and usually bite during the day. The mosquito-transmitted infection is related to Dengue, Yellow Fever and West Nile virus.
“Considering that women of child-bearing age and pregnant women are the prime target group for Zika virus vaccine, we consider safety as the overriding factor in development of a new vaccine for this virus. The vaccine methods developed early on, before the devastating consequences of the epidemics in Brazil came to light provided us a push to accelerate vaccine development,” Dr Sumathy, Director, R&D, Bharat Biotech said.
Currently, the vaccine maker is focusing towards scale up and characterization of the vaccine product, Ella further said.