Zika hits U.S. milestone as Meriden company seeks vaccine

MERIDEN, Conn (WTNH)–A frightening milestone has now been passed in the Zika epidemic. One thousand people have been diagnosed with the virus in the U.S.

At Protein Sciences in Meriden, work is being done to find a vaccine.

First they need a place to start, and will focus on young girls who may want to get pregnant, to protect them against the harmful risks of Zika, including microcephaly.

Animal testing will start soon, this as warmer weather ramps up, and mosquitoes begin to breed.

“The mosquito most commonly found in the northeast, the Asian tiger mosquito carries Zika. That means in the spring and summer we are going to see more cases of the Zika virus here in Connecticut,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Protein Sciences believes it is already ahead of the game to find a vaccine, using the same platform technology as their popular Flublok influenza vaccine.

“We have already shown that if you had antibodies against a certain protein, Protein E that you would be able to introduce neutralizing antibodies that would prevent small animals from getting sick with the Zika virus,” said Dr. Manon Cox of Protein Sciences.

It’s expensive work for a smaller company, and much needed federal funding to help get it done is being blocked by partisan bickering in Congress.

“Mosquitoes don’t know the difference between red states and blue states”.

“Every day that we wait, to invest in Protein Sciences and others is a day lost and potentially putting at risk women, their newborns and others who suffer from this disabling and deadly disease,” said Sen. Blumenthal.