RPT-Scientists' path to usable Zika vaccine strewn with hurdles

Wed Feb 3, 2016 3:30am EST
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(Repeats Tuesday report)

* More companies join Zika vaccine development race

* Safe shot for at-risk women and girls a big challenge

* Full regulatory approval of vaccine will take years

* Commercial opportunity for Zika vaccine uncertain

By Kate Kelland and Ben Hirschler

LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - The world is once again asking scientists and drugmakers to come up rapidly with a vaccine for a viral disease that, in the latest case, few people had heard of until a few weeks ago, and even fewer feared.

Making a shot to generate an immune response against Zika virus, which is sweeping through the Americas, shouldn't be too hard in theory. However, producing a safe, effective and deliverable product to protect women and girls who are at risk is not easy in practice.

For a start, scientists around the world know even less about Zika than they did about the Ebola virus that caused an unprecedented epidemic in West Africa last year.   Continued...