U.S. pharmaceutical company, Inovio Pharmaceuticals has announced that it has received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to commence a 40-person study for a potential vaccine for the Zika virus.

The DNA-based vaccine which aims to stimulate antibodies by mimicking the Zika virus is the first potential vaccine for the mosquito-borne virus.

According to the Associated Press, this development takes the company ahead of researchers at the National Institutes of Health, who expect to begin testing their DNA-based Zika virus vaccine by early fall.

The vaccine will introduce genetically-engineered materials that mimics Zika virus into the body to get an individual’s immune system ready to fight the Zika virus.

The first human trial will focus on safety, dosage and the body’s immune response to the vaccine.

The results of the first study may be in by the end of the year, though the drug most likely won’t be available for use until large studies of safety and effectiveness can be completed.

Zika, a mosquito-borne virus which can cause severe birth defects is now endemic in much of Latin America.

Author: Ope Adedeji