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Philly-Based Lab At Forefront Of Zika Vaccine

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — “Late fall, last year, we were watching like everybody else, the epidemic in Brazil and South America,” said Dr. Joseph Kim.

So, Kim, the president of Innovio Pharmaceuticals, teamed up with Dr. David Weiner at Philadelphia’s Wistar Institute to create a safe vaccine to battle the Zika virus. “We put our best scientists on the program and fast forward nine months, and Innovio had the first Zika vaccine to be approved for the FDA for human testing.”

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The vaccine is now being tested in 40 people, some right here in Philadelphia, before it could get approval from the FDA.

What makes this vaccine different, is the fact that it is not live. It is fully synthetic and created entirely on a computer.

“This vaccine is based on synthetic DNA, which is designed using computer technology. Basically, it’s a non-living, doesn’t grow, can’t replicate, can’t spread to other individuals which is relatively stuck wherever you inject it.

Dr. Weiner says it basically means the virus will prepare the body if it’s infected with Zika at a later date.

“Like Navy Seals rehearse, they don’t always necessarily shoot somebody,” Dr. Weiner said. “Sort of the same thing. We’re rehearsing the immune system, making it able so when they do encounter the real pathogen, they’ll be prepared.”

Already, the early results seem promising. Black dots show sample of T-cells which grew in vaccinates patients, the same cells that would fight a true zika infection.

So, when could this Zika vaccine be rolled out to the general public? Well, there are two factors:

The results of these human tests and the need determined by the FDA.

 

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