Pregnant women to serve as human guinea pigs for experimental Zika vaccine

Thursday, August 4, 2016
By Paul Martin

by: Ethan A. Huff
Thursday, August 04, 2016

Researchers from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have developed a brand new vaccine – in just seven days, believe it or not – that they claim is capable of treating everything from Ebola and H1N1 influenza, to the newest villain on the block: the Zika virus that’s on everyone’s minds as the 2016 Summer Olympics in mosquito-ridden Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, rapidly approaches.

Omar Khan, a chemical engineer who helped conduct research into the new vaccine, says it uses messenger RNA, or mRNA, to provoke an immune response in the body. mRNA is a special type of genetic material that’s responsible for manufacturing proteins in cells, which can be customized and coded to target a variety of illnesses. And according to experts, it’s already been shown to have a 100 percent success rate in mice.

The way it works is these mRNA vaccines are injected into molecules where they can then be manipulated in terms of their electrical charge and shape. Based on the coding used to alter them, these mRNA vaccines gain special entry rights into cells, working much in the same way as viruses that do the same thing to their cellular hosts.

“Things like Zika, or the recent Ebola outbreak – we can rapidly respond to that within seven days,” Khan told reporters. “So when there’s an extraordinary need and you need something that is safe, then we have the ability to make that happen.”

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