US invests $81 million in Zika research

Insight

U.S. invests $81 million in Zika research

Nearly 70 years ago, scientists researching yellow fever came across a strange new virus in Uganda’s Zika Forest.

A year later, they traced that virus to a type of mosquito in that same forest. They called the virus “Zika.”

Decades would pass before the virus exploded in Latin America and the Caribbean.

CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar has the story. Follow Asieh Namdar on Twitter@asiehnamdar

U.S. invests $81 million in Zika research

U.S. invests $81 million in Zika research

Last November, Brazil declared a public health emergency because of the Zika virus. There is no vaccine. But that could be changing. CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar has more on the story.
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Last November, Brazil declared a public health emergency because of the Zika virus.

Cases were quickly reported in 18 nearby nations. And last February, the World Health Organization declared Zika a “public health emergency of international concern.”

There is no vaccine. But that could be changing.

Brazil’s biomedical research center is hoping to begin clinical trials by the end of 2017. The Brazilian government has already invested more than $2 million into the program. The U.S. is testing a vaccine in 80 healthy volunteers, but needs more funding.

U.S. health officials have to get creative with their budgets, or the research on a Zika vaccine is at risk of stalling. The Obama administration announced on Thursday that it will shift $81 million from existing federal health programs to continue work on developing a Zika vaccine.

For now, the only immediate action health officials can take is spraying chemicals to keep mosquito populations down. They are also developing more rapid, more accurate testing to better diagnose Zika infections.


Jae U Jung on how Zika virus causes microcephaly

It’s one thing to develop a Zika vaccine. It’s another to understand why Zika leads to microcephaly, a birth defect where where babies are born with small heads and brains.

Researchers at the University of Southern California may have just made a crucial discovery.

For more on the discovery, CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar was joined by the lead researcher on the study, Jae U Jung. Jung is the senior corresponding author and distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.


US, Cuba to join forces to further research on Zika

One year ago, the United States flag was raised in front of the country’s embassy in Cuba.

One of the benefits of that newfound détente is that the two countries can collaborate on health issues.

CCTV’s Michael Voss has Insight into how that impacted Zika. Follow Michael Voss on Twitter @mvosscuba

US, Cuba to join forces on further Zika research

US, Cuba to join forces on further Zika research

One year ago, the United States flag was raised in front of the country’s embassy in Cuba. One of the benefits of that newfound détente is that the two countries can collaborate on health issues. CCTV’s Michael Voss has Insight into how that impacted Zika.
Download Video

The Pedro Kouri hospital on the outskirts of Havana houses Cuba’s Institute of Tropical Medicine. It’s both a specialist hospital and a leading research center for mosquito born viral diseases like Zika and Dengue fever. Now, they could soon benefit from working with similar institutes in the United States.

A U.S. delegation is due to visit the Institute in October to finalize details about areas of cooperation.

This agreement should result in joint research projects and academic exchanges, but access to state- of-the-art American technology could still be restricted by the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

The U.S. is also interested in looking at the way Cuba responds to medical emergencies like Zika.

Cuba has deployed the military early on to help fumigate homes throughout the island and used neighborhood watch groups to look for standing water, as well as monitoring airport arrivals.

“We are screening all people that are coming from outside,” Jorge Perez, director of the Tropical Medicine Institute said. Perez was part of the Cuban delegation that went to Washington to negotiate the cooperation agreement.

Regarding the agreement, Perez said that because Cuba and U.S. are so close to each other that anything that happens in Cuba could affect U.S., and vice versa.

Vaccine research is another area of potential cooperation. This lab is working on a vaccine for Dengue fever, which is spread by the same mosquito as Zika. It’s currently undergoing pre-clinical trials in Vietnam. Now they are looking forward to working with U.S. scientists as well.