With the World Health Organisation declaring the newest virus outbreak a “global public health emergency”, Sanofi Pasteur starts the battle against Zika, creating an R&D project meant to tackle the prevention of the virus infection and disease.
Sanofi Group is famous for its top-knotch performance in the field of virus prevention, having under its belt vaccines against the Yellow Fever, the Japanese Encephalitis and currently developing one against the Dengue. With this new player coming along, things could change rapidly towards millions of lives saved sooner than we expected.
The French multinational pharmaceutical company says it is hopeful that they can achieve groundbreaking results in the fight against Zika virus, as they have already developed functional vaccines against similar types of viruses.
Sanofi has been working actively over the last 20 years on developing a vaccine for the Dengue disease, which the company says shows some resemblance to Zika. They both come from the Flavivirus genus and can be transmitted through Aedes aegypti mosquito bites.
Since the company has already spent close to €1bn in R&D for the Dengue vaccine, the specialists are hopeful that they will find a pathway to preventing this type of disease in the near future.
None of the Sanofi officials has mentioned yet how much they are prepared to invest towards this purpose or whether they were seeking external sponsors for their efforts.
Zika is an extremely dangerous virus that can be inflicted by Aedes mosquito bites. Current affected areas include Africa, the Pacific Islands and South East Asia, with the most recent report of the virus being in Brazil in May last year.
The data collected so far from the regions affected shows a strong connection between the Zika virus and babies born with abnormally small heads.
The United States and Europe are safe for the time being, however any person travelling within the affected regions is at risk of spreading the disease even more. The WHO representatives predict that by the end of this year we could have around four million people infected already.
As this virus was considered extremely rare and harmless in the past, there is currently no active vaccine against Zika. Although there is no clear method of prevention at this point, detailed investigations are underway. Researchers have pointed out that the first order of business on this issue is to demonstrate the direct relationship between Zika and microcephaly and understand exactly how it triggers it.
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