Austrian-based biotech firm Themis Bioscience has begun the Phase I trial of its Zika vaccine MV-ZIKA-101 in healthy subjects.
MV-ZIKA-101 is a live attenuated recombinant vaccine based on the firm's vaccine vector technology, which uses measles virus' vaccine backbone.
Themis has previously adopted the technology in the development of its prophylactic vaccine for Chikungunya.
The primary objective of the trial is to determine the most suitable MV-ZIKA-101 doses based on the immunogenicity, safety and tolerability observed in 48 healthy participants compared to placebo.
Themis chief executive officer and founder Dr Erich Tauber said: "We not only managed to initiate one of the first studies of Zika vaccines at all, but are globally the first study to test a live attenuated recombinant Zika vaccine.
"Live attenuated vaccines are regarded as superior as they induce a faster and more complete activation of the immune system leading to durable immunity. We are happy to be at the forefront of developing such a powerful vaccine against Zika."
The measles vector, platform-based Zika vaccine includes certain Zika virus antigens integrated into the proven measles vaccine.
Three different treatment regimens of the vaccine will be evaluated for safety, side effects and adverse events, while a Zika-specific immune response will be examined as a measure of efficacy.
The results from the evaluation of the vaccine in animal models were found to be favourable.
Image: 3D representation of a Zika virus. Photo: courtesy of Manuel Almagro Rivas.