UConn researcher Paulo Verardi, associate professor of pathobiology and veterinary science in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, has demonstrated the success of a vaccine against Zika virus and recently published his findings in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research publication.
He has also filed provisional patents with UConn’s Technology Commercialization Services for the novel vaccine platform technology used to generate the vaccine, as well as genetic modifications made to the vaccine that significantly enhance expression of the vaccine antigen.
Verardi, a Brazilian native, was in Brazil visiting family in the summer of 2015 when the Zika outbreak first began to make waves and soon reached epidemic status.
Back in the United States, Verardi kept tabs on the Zika epidemic and its emerging connection to microcephaly, a serious birth defect that causes babies to be born with small heads and underdeveloped brains.
In October of that year, Verardi called then-Ph.D.-student Brittany Jasperse (CAHNR ‘19) into his office and told her he wanted to apply their newly developed vaccine platform and start developing a vaccine for Zika virus.
It’s an impressive achievement and there’s a full article attached for those looking to know more.
Verardi emphasizes that developing vaccines for viruses, in this case Zika, help the world be better prepared for outbreaks of novel and emerging viruses by having vaccine development frameworks in place.
“Emerging viruses are not going to stop popping up any time soon, so we need to be prepared,” Verardi says. “Part of being prepared is to continue the development of these platforms.”
If you’re a journalist looking to know more about Zika virus and this emerging news about a vaccine – then let us help.
Dr. Paulo Verardi is a virologist who specializes in vaccine research and development. He is an Associate Professor at UConn and a member of the Center of Excellence for Vaccine Research. Dr. Verardi is available to speak with media regarding this emerging development – simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview today.