Our objective is to utilize human iPSC-derived neural and ocular cells to identify growth attenuated and non-pathogenic Zika virus vaccine candidates that can prevent congenital ZIKV disease.
Currently, there are no therapies or vaccines available against ZIKV for human use. The human iPSC technology provides a unique opportunity to test the growth and virulence of vaccine candidates.
Major Proposed Activities
- Generating recombinant Zika viral vaccine candidates by genetic engineering.
- Assessing the growth and virulence of vaccine candidates in iPSC-derived neural and ocular cells.
- Characterizing vaccine virus growth and immunogenicity after various routes of administration in adult mice.
- Evaluating the safety of vaccine candidates in newborn mice.
- Immunization of female mice to limit ZIKV induced congenital disease during pregnancy.
- Assessing the vision and neuro-behavior of mice born to immunized mothers.
In the past year, millions of people have been infected with Zika virus globally. Currently, the California Department of Public Health has reported 490 travel-associated ZIKV infections including 6 cases of sexual transmission and 82 infected pregnant women (4 live births with microcephaly and eye disease). Mosquitos carrying ZIKV have been reported in California, which increases the risk of local transmission. A ZIKV vaccine can greatly benefit the people in California and beyond.