Sanofi Pasteur Launches Zika Vaccine Effort

(AP) -

Drugmaker Sanofi Pasteur says it is launching an effort to research and develop a vaccine to prevent the Zika virus.

Sanofi’s announcement Tuesday comes the day after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency over the explosive spread of the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to birth defects in the Americas.

There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika, which is in the same family of viruses as dengue. Sanofi made the first licensed dengue vaccine shot, licensed last year in Brazil after years of scientific struggle to develop one.

France-based Sanofi said in a statement Tuesday that its experience with the dengue vaccine “can be rapidly leveraged to help understand the spread” of Zika and “potentially speed identification of a vaccine candidate for further clinical development.”