Research groups in Europe have joined forces to develop a new vaccine against the Zika virus.
The ZIKAVAX consortium is supported by €5m funding from the EU's Horizon 2020 programme and comprises Themis from Austria, the European Vaccine Initiative, Institut Pasteur in Paris and the Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives in France.
This funding supports the combat of the infectious disease that spreads to previously unaffected regions of the world.
Themis CEO and co-founder Dr Erich Tauber said: "The recently Phase I clinical trial results of our lead product, a Chikungunya vaccine, which is now tested in a Phase II trial, have proven the suitability of the vector for other indications and we will now pursue the adaption of the technology for developing a Zika vaccine.
“The exceptional expertise combined in ZIKAVAX will guarantee quick progress and we are happy to be part of this consortium."
The joint development initiative focuses on Themis' Themaxyn technology platform based on a measles vaccine vector.
Themaxyn uses a standard measles virus vaccine as a vector developed at Institut Pasteur.
ZIKAVAX project executive director of the European vaccine initiative and coordinator Dr Odile Leroy said: "Developing an effective Zika vaccine has become a global health priority for preventing the further spread of the virus.
“We are convinced that the use of the measles vaccine delivery platform, one of the safest and most efficacious vaccines available to date, will allow for a rapid and cost-effective development of a Zika vaccine."
The ZIKAVAX consortium’s work will compliment Themis' internal Zika R&D project and is aimed at developing a Zika vaccine.
Themis has tested various candidate vaccines in animal models, initiated a toxicity study and also established GMP manufacturing with plans to begin Phase I trials early next year.