The vaccine, which is being produced by South Korean pharmaceutical company GeneOne Life Science, could be distributed to patients as soon as July.
Inovio President and CEO Dr. Joseph Kim, said in a statement: “We were the first to construct the vaccine. And now as of this morning, we were the first to get the OK from the US FDA to start the human studies.”
It only took the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nine months to approve the vaccine for human use and it is the first experimental vaccine ever approved for a clinical trial.
A step, which Gary Kobinger, from Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory, said was “really phenomenal”.
The speed of the approval is testimony to the concern in the United States that Zika is spreading through out urban populations.
Current testing on mice and monkeys showed that the DNA vaccine, coded to produce the protein that surrounds the Zika virus, triggered an essential antibody response.
The target population will be pregnant women and women of a child-bearing age, and clinical trials will be initially be tested on 40 healthy adults.
The first Zika diagnosis on the US mainland was made in Texas in February 2016. It is believed it was sexually transmitted after the woman’s partner had travelled to South America.
The World Health Organisation advises reducing the risk of sexual transmission, people living in areas of local transmission should practice safe sex or abstain from sexual activity.
In addition people returning from areas affected, should practice safe sex or abstain from sex for at least 8 weeks after their return if they are female, and up to six months for men.