Who: Bharat Biotech
What: Unveiled first vaccine candidate Zikavac
When: 3 February 2016
Why: For Zika Virus
Indian biotechnology company Bharat Biotech on 3 February 2016 claimed that it has achieved a breakthrough in developing a vaccine to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
Bharat Biotech developed world’s first, two promising candidatesZikaVac vaccines for Zika infection.
The company is probably the first in the world to file for global patent for the two vaccines.
One of the possible vaccines is recombinant, which means it is created by genetic engineering, while the other was inactivated, and will enter pre-clinical trials in animals in two weeks.
The company announced that it could make available the inactivated vaccine in two years if the Indian Government fast-tracked the regulatory approvals once the pre-clinical trials proved to be successful.
While the recombinant vaccine might take time, the pre-clinical testing of the inactivated vaccine in animals will be completed in five months.
Key facts related to the breakthrough
• Bharat Biotech developed the vaccine and pro vaccine candidates.
• It filed a patent in July 2015. The company is probably the first in the world to file for global patent for Zika Vaccine candidates.
• The company has been working on Zika vaccine for more than 15 months.
• The company was able to develop the ZikaVac vaccines because it had earlier successfully developed vaccine on vector borne Chikungunya disease which is also transmitted by Aedes mosquito similar to Zika virus.
About Bharat Bitotech
• Bharat Biotech is an Indian Biotechnology company, headquartered at Genome Valley, Hyderabad.
• The company was founded by Indian scientist, Krishna Ella.
• Bharat Biotech has one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturing plants of its kind in Asia-Pacific.
• It is the first bio-pharma facility in the country to be audited and approved by Korean Food & Drugs Administration (KFDA).
About Zika virus
• Zika virus is transmitted by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes.
• Its name is derived from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947.
• In humans, the virus causes most often no symptoms or a mild illness known as Zika fever, which since the 1950s has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia.
• In 2014, the virus spread eastward across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia, then to Easter Island and in 2015 to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, where the Zika outbreak has reached pandemic levels.
• There is a possible link between Zika fever and microcephaly in newborn babies by mother-to-child transmission, as well as a stronger one with neurologic conditions in infected adults, including cases of the Guillain–Barré syndrome.
• In January 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel guidance on affected countries.
• On 2 February 2016, Dallas County Health and Human Services confirmed the first case of transmission in the United States.
• On 1 February 2016, World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Public Health Emergency of International Concern over the explosive spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.