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February 10, 2016

UVM Vaccine Testing Center to play role in Zika virus vaccine development

UVM Vaccine Testing Center to play role in Zika virus vaccine development

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The University of Vermont Vaccine Testing Center will be involved in the development of a vaccine for Zika virus, which was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization on Feb. 1.

The University of Vermont Vaccine Testing Center (VTC) announced Feb. 4 that it will be involved in the development of a vaccine for Zika virus, which was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization on Feb. 1.

UVM VTC faculty Kristen Pierce, M.D., (KP) an infectious disease specialist and associate professor of medicine, and Sean Diehl, Ph.D., (SD) an immunologist and assistant professor of medicine, have expertise in the characteristics of flaviviruses – a group of viruses, mostly transmitted via insects, that cause such human diseases as Zika virus, yellow fever, dengue, various types of encephalitis, and hepatitis C – and related vaccines. An infectious disease physician, Pierce has led or co-led several dengue and West Nile virus vaccine-related trials. Diehl studies the basic mechanisms of flaviviruses, vaccines against flaviviruses, and the immune responses triggered by flavivirus natural infection or vaccination.

“The VTC has a long-standing partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) lab that developed a dengue vaccine and is developing the Zika vaccine, and the VTC, together with the Center for Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., will be one two sites to test the safety and immune response testing of an NIH-developed Zika vaccine candidate in humans. Because of the potential for a link of Zika infection with birth defects, pregnant women or those who may become pregnant will be excluded from Zika vaccine trials,” Pierce and Diehl said in a statement.

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