The World Health Organization has warned that the Zika R&D; frenzy may not culminate in a vaccine in time for the current outbreak, but Sanofi Chief Scientific Officer Gary Nabel won't take that for an answer. Nabel says it can be done, but it means turning the traditional vaccine development model on its head.
Multiple public health authorities have given insight to the timing of Zika vaccine development, with the WHO now stating that any vaccine may be too late for the current outbreak, a similar situation to the one the world experienced in the Ebola epidemic.
The FDA just informed two providers of unapproved diagnostics for the Zika virus that it needs to review their tests' design, validation and performance characteristics.
The FDA is coming down on MD Biosciences for marketing its Zika test without proper approval. The move comes less than two weeks after the company rolled out its RNA diagnostic for the virus.
In this week's Dx Digest, Veritas Genetics launched a $999 whole genome sequencing service that can run on a smartphone, Chembio Diagnostics is teaming up with a Brazilian biotech organization to develop point-of-care Zika tests for the country, and Cepheid got an FDA OK for its superbug test.
Widening the field further, Vaxart, Immunovaccine and Mayo Clinic are joining a slew of biotechs and pharmas either exploring or embarking on Zika vaccine development.
Just last month, Sanofi became the first Big Pharma player to enter the Zika vaccine R&D; space as its peers calculated their responses and weighed their options. Now, the French pharma is taking it a step further, outlining its plans to devote dozens of scientists to the field in a move aimed at expediting its vaccine development.
With the number of Zika cases on the rise, health experts are calling for more tools that can identify the virus sooner. Now Google is getting in on the effort, donating $1 million to emergency relief organization UNICEF to help create new diagnostics for Zika and map the virus' spread.
Vaccine companies and research organizations worldwide continue to race against Zika, with a new entrant emerging in Novavax. The biotech announced it's conducting preliminary Zika research in a week that saw several other developments in the field.
In this week's Dx Digest, Myriad Genetics struck a pair of companion diagnostics deals with pharma heavyweights Merck and AbbVie, Ambry Genetics cut the ribbon on a new genetic testing lab, and two Texas hospitals said that they are working on rapid diagnostics for the Zika virus.