“My team is starting on this immediately,” says Dr. Poland. “We will be collaborating with the Butantan Institute in Brazil and its director Joge Kalil, M.D., Ph.D. They are the largest immunobiology lab in Latin America and produce 90 percent of the vaccines in Brazil. “
“We are very pleased to be working with Mayo Clinic on this urgent project,” says Dr. Kalil. “We hope to find an answer to this growing problem.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the virus, carried and spread by mosquitos, is believed to have been the cause of an increased level of birth defects, specifically microcephaly – infants with smaller than normal heads – and Guillain-Barré syndrome. It was first reported in Brazil in 2015 and has spread to many countries in Latin America. It was previously active in Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands.
The Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group has been active in advancing discoveries in influenza, rubella, measles and smallpox. There is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus and no treatment for stemming potential birth defects once a woman has been infected.