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5 February 2016Asia

Indian company files 'first' patent for Zika vaccine

India-based vaccines and biotherapeutic manufacturer Bharat Biotech has said it has filed the first patent for a vaccine for the Zika virus.

The company said on February 3 that it is developing two “promising candidates” called Zikavac which it hopes will treat the virus.

It applied for global patent protection under the Patent Cooperation Treaty in July last year.

Sumathy Kandaswamy, Bharat’s director for research and development, said: “We believe we have an early mover advantage in developing the Zikavac and we are probably the first in the world to file a global patent for Zika vaccine candidates.

“We have two candidate vaccines in development. One of them is an inactivated vaccine that has reached the stage of pre-clinical testing in animals,” Kandaswamy added.

The World Health Organization said this week that Zika poses a global public health emergency.

The virus, spread by mosquitoes, is now present in 23 countries. In Brazil there have reportedly been 3,530 cases of the birth defect microcephaly, which is linked to the virus.

Krishna Ella, founder of Bharat, said: “The first thing is to be prepared for the worst, but we hope to announce the arrival of Zikavac to the world as early as possible.”

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