This morning we revisited a prime reason to fear summer, which is potentially coming face to face with a big old shark. And while fortunately shark bites are not something you've got a great chance of struggling with this season, there are always mosquitoes to worry about. And with mosquitoes comes the fresh new fear of Zika, which at the moment has no specific treatment. Good news though! In a few weeks, clinical trials of a Zika vaccine will begin.
Medical companies Inovio and GeneOne Life Science have been given the go-ahead to test their Zika vaccine by the FDA, according to STAT, becoming the first companies to be allowed to do clinical trials for a Zika virus in the United States. The vaccine, which goes by the sexy name of GLS-5700, will be tested on 40 human adults in a matter of weeks, after testing on mice and monkeys showed the vaccine giving our finest science animals an immune system boost.
According to STAT, the vaccine works as follows:
DNA coded to produce the protein that surrounds the Zika virus is injected into the skin.
The site of the injection is zapped with a device that delivers a short electrical pulse that helps the DNA find its way into cells. The cells then start the process of training the immune system to see the Zika virus as a foreign invader that needs to be attacked, generating antibodies to fight it.
Finally, electricity does something good for us beyond just pushing human civilization forward to previously undreamed of heights. And if that's not enough good news for you, the story also contains the news that a second Zika vaccine, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, should also begin testing later this summer.
Of course, that's probably a bit too much good news. Before you run out to one of the city's many swamps, marshes or fetid pools of standing water to taunt our mosquito population, be aware that the NYC Health Department has just announced they found the summer's first West Nile-carrying mosquitos in Staten Island. So, until that vaccine is totally ready for mass production, it's West Nile and Zika, friends forever, silently haunting our summers like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers deciding to team up.