15 November 2023

A team of researchers from the University of Gdańsk (UG) and the Medical University of Gdańsk (GUM) has developed a prototype vaccine for Zika virus. The team was  led by dr hab. Ewelina Król, prof. UG, consisting of dr Gabriela Brzuska, dr Anna Czarnota and prof dr hab. Bogusław Szewczyk.

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne infection that usually causes mild symptoms or is asymptomatic. However, it can cause birth defects in babies of women who have had the infection during pregnancy. The virus was spotted worldwide during the epidemic of 2015-2016, with major outbreaks in Central and South America.

Although many resources were dedicated to vaccine development right after the outbreak, there are presently no authorized treatments for the Zika virus available. Most products are still in the pre-clinical or early clinical phases.

At the start of the virus outbreak, Gdansk scientists came up with the idea of developing a vaccine against the virus. The effectiveness of the solution has so far been tested on a mouse animal model, making it a potential contender for the first official vaccine against the Zika virus worldwide, according to experts.

The Polish prototype anti-Zika jab “allows the human body to better protect itself against being infected by the Zika virus,” said Ewelina Król, who led the research team.

‘Our solution presents methods for purifying the developed antigens obtained from eukaryotic cells on a laboratory scale and will also be able to be used for purifying antigens on a semi-industrial scale,’ she adds.

Vaccination would help defend body from viral infection by introducing it to a safe stimulus that prompts the production of antibodies to combat the specific infection. The aim is for  body to safely learn how to recognise and fight the particular pathogens. This builds up a supply of neutralising antibodies, so if you encounter the pathogen at a later time, your body is ready to fight it off.

The Patent Office of the Republic of Poland decided to grant a patent (Pat. 243688) for the invention ‘Sequences of recombinant flavivirus-like particles and their medical application for the prevention of Zika virus infection’ to scientists from the Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG and MUG.

Photo: Freepik

Photo: freepik

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