sexta-feira, 5 de fevereiro de 2016

Zika: global alert to race to the vaccine

The World Health Organization decreed on Monday the epidemic of the virus Zika as an international health emergency, with the goal of mobilizing the necessary resources to combat its rapid spread.

Already there are recorded cases of the virus in at least 26 countries of the American continent and there are strong suspicions that the Zika is responsible for deformities in fetuses of pregnant women who become infected.

The Brazil recorded 4074 microcephaly cases to 30 January.

A case of sexual transmission, in the u.s. State of Texas, reinforces the fears. Currently, the only ways to combat the epidemic, condoms, repellent products, fumigation and the Eliminat ion of stagnant water, favorable to the development of mosquito larvae.

This week, several laboratories have launched in search of a vaccine to the Zika, a virus little studied by the scientific community since it was first identified, in 1947, in monkeys in Uganda. The first human case was detected in 1952.

To learn more about the study of a vaccine for Zika, spoke with Nicholas Jackson, Research Director of the laboratories Sanofi Pasteur.

Nicholas Jackson: it's a global challenge and that can take years to be supeado, but who left it very clear the Zika is a global emergency that must be treated at the international level. We can answer that, for two reasons. First, our company has the technology and experience. Secondly, we have a big infrastructure, which was put to work for the dengue vaccine. This allows us to start with and make the vaccine development acceleration.

But, you say, it can take years and not months ...

Yes, the development of a vaccine will take a few years, because we have to go step by step, carefully and prove that the vaccine is safe and effective.

Even the trial version will take years to get to where you need ...

It will take years, but the important thing is that we can cooperate, at a global level, with organizations such as the who, in regions or countries such as Brazil. To use the experience gained in the Flavivirus, we can save several years.

But without this collaboration and without an effective vaccine, that gravity can the epidemic of Zika take?

The who was very clear. There is a potential association with various congenital complications and also a potential neurological disorder that has been associated with the Zika, for adults. So, we have to handle this matter very serious and don't forget that the mosquito is transmitting the disease is a form of transmission extremely effective. Spread the dengue fever all over the world, in tropical regions.

And dengue is similar?

Dengue is a semelhate virus, which belongs to the same family as the Zika. Is a mosquito extremely tame, who lives in our homes, can be under our kitchen table. When bites, is very aggressive. Took already the dengue fever to a hundred countries around the world.

As for the potential mutation of the virus â€" would bring a major drawback to the development of the vaccine?

* The virus changes, but looking at the genetic information currently available, the Zika virus is maintained at about 95%. Only a small percentage of the genetic code is different. This makes it a relatively easy target, compared to other viruses.

The target group is the pregnant women. Obviously can not do the tests on them. This can also be a factor that will slow down the search?

* If you confirm that the neurological disease known as Guillain-Barre syndrome, which causes a degenerative paralysis, is associated with the Zika, we're going to need a vaccine to prevent the disease, too, for all ages and both sexes. Of course, we recognize that the priority goes to the women who become pregnant, think you could really benefit from a vaccine that prevents the disease.

The epidemic could spread throughout Europe, since the virus is present in the South of France. Is it true?

Mosquitoes that can transmit and that transmit the Zika were identified in southern Europe and a vast area of the United States. If a relationship with these clinical complications of what we talked about, this becomes a major concern for public health.

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