WHO, Drug Companies, Researchers Focus On Zika R&D Priorities, Virus’s Potential Links With Microcephaly, Guillain-Barré Syndrome

CIDRAP News: WHO lists Zika R&D priorities; groups probe microcephaly, GBS
“The World Health Organization (WHO) said today it is mapping research and development (R&D) projects under way for Zika virus and will be prioritizing some for fast-track development, similar to the role it played when Ebola vaccines and therapeutics were first discussed. In other international developments, the WHO and other groups highlighted new information that speaks to the complex task health officials have in probing the possible links between Zika virus and two neurologic conditions — microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)…” (Schnirring, 2/8).

NPR: World Health Organization Focuses On Zika-Linked Microcephaly Cases
“NPR’s Audie Cornish talks to David L. Heymann, chair of the World Health Organization emergency committee on the Zika virus, about what it’s doing about the spread of the virus…” (2/8).

Reuters: Race to fast-track Zika trials as 12 groups seek vaccine
“At least 12 groups are now working to develop a Zika vaccine and health authorities said on Monday they were working to ensure development proceeded as rapidly as possible. The World Health Organization said it was important to establish speedy regulatory pathways, although all the vaccines remained in early-stage development and licensed products would take ‘a few years’ to reach the market…” (Hirschler, 2/8).

Reuters: Brazilian studies aim to unravel Zika’s link to birth defects
“…[Roberto Santos General Hospital in Salvador, Brazil,] is one of three in this city on Brazil’s eastern coast where investigators are studying the most urgent question of the Zika outbreak: Is the virus causing a spike in birth defects, and, if so, how great is the risk?…” (Steenhuysen, 2/9).

TIME: Here’s the Other Zika Problem Experts Are Worried About
“…In addition to the abnormally small heads and associated brain damage that characterizes microcephaly, experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently completed the initial stages of a trial looking at the connection between Zika and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)…” (Sifferlin, 2/8).

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