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NIH to Test Mosquito Saliva Protein Vaccine Against Mosquito-Borne Diseases Like Zika

woman scratching arm

Blood samples will be taken at various time points to measure antibody response by participants.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is recruiting 60 men and women for a Phase I clinical trial who will volunteer to be injected with an experimental vaccine containing synthetic proteins from mosquito saliva, then bitten by mosquitoes. The trial design is supposed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the new vaccine.

A London-based pharmaceutical company, SEEK, developed AGS-v, the investigational mosquito-borne disease vaccine. AGS-v vaccine contains four synthetic proteins from mosquito saliva, which researchers hope will prompt people to produce antibodies that cause an immune response to mosquito saliva when bitten by mosquitoes, rather than a response to a specific virus or parasite carried by the mosquitoes. The theory is that vaccinated persons will have a modified allergic response that can prevent future infection when bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito.

The antibodies are intended to provide protection against a broad range of mosquito-transmitted diseases, such as Zika, malaria, West Nile fever and dengue fever.

The company expects that the ability of a mosquito to transmit infections like Zika will be blocked after the insect feeds on the blood of a person injected with the AGS-v vaccine.  Scientists are hoping the new vaccine will stimulate altered behavior in the mosquitoes—like reduced ability to reproduce—and even a shortened lifespan.

NIAID is seeking healthy adults, between 18 to 50 years of age, for enrollment in the Phase I double-blind trial. Researchers will randomly assign participants to one of three vaccine groups. One group will be injected with two doses of the unadjuvanted test vaccine, 21 days apart. A second group will be injected with two doses of the test vaccine combined with an oil and water adjuvant, 21 days apart. The third group will receive two sterile water placebo injections, 21 days apart.

Another 21 days after vaccinations, all study subjects will be exposed to a controlled 20 minute session at an NIH lab of being bitten on the arm by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that are not carrying viruses or parasites. A Feb. 23, 2017 NIH press release states that there is no risk to participants of being infected with Zika, malaria, West Nile fever or dengue fever after being bitten by the mosquitoes.

Blood samples will be taken at various time points to measure antibody response by participants. Following the mosquito feeding, the patients will also have follow-up visits every 60 days for five months to assess any adverse events following vaccination. The final assessment will take place at approximately 10 months following the mosquitoes feeding on the blood of trial participants.

According to NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, MD:

Mosquitoes cause more human disease and death than any other animal. A single vaccine capable of protecting against the scourge of mosquito-borne diseases is a novel concept that, if proven successful, would be a monumental public health advance.

Aiming to complete the trial by Dec. 31, 2019, the small clinical trial and follow-up will take place at the NIH clinical center in Maryland.1 2


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4 Responses to NIH to Test Mosquito Saliva Protein Vaccine Against Mosquito-Borne Diseases Like Zika

  1. Cypher Reply

    March 22, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Not concerned about a benign disease that was discovered in the 1940s and never caused any issues other than rare low grade fevers.

  2. Jenny M Reply

    March 14, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Bob, I agree! Not worth it. 40 women died during the HP the Gardacil vaccine trials! No thanks! Now they want infants to be injected in the US with Gardacil shot! Because of infant can’t talk about the side effects like a teenager can and many teenagers have either died or talked about the serious side effects of this particular vaccine and it’s been banned in other countries so you would think our country would say OK this one isn’t right and it’s totally unnecessary! No infant needs hepatitis B vaccine or the HPV vaccine. In fact I don’t think people need them at all!

  3. Jenny M Reply

    March 14, 2017 at 7:41 am

    No thank you I won’t use a regular old vaccine let alone be a Guinea pig for a new vaccine. Who knows what horrible side effects will occur. I don’t know anybody in their right mind who would do this for any amount of money it would have to be millions

  4. Bob Reply

    March 10, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Good luck to those volunteers. I hope the meager remittance was worth the lifetime of side effects.

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