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The Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit will lead a study of people infected with Zika virus to better understand the infection.

The Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit at Baylor College of Medicine has been awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health to  lead a study of people infected with Zika virus to better understand the infection and the immune responses following infection. The study will help inform diagnostic and infection control measures, as well as Zika vaccine development.

Baylor has been awarded more than $1 million for the project; the other two sites in the study include Emory University School of Medicine and Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

“When a virus starts affecting new populations that we have not seen in the past, it’s important to understand how people can be protected and what types of diseases can occur,” said Dr. Shital Patel, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor and principal investigator for the study. “Through this study we will be able to determine how our body protects itself from this virus and how long this virus lasts in certain parts of our body. This research will help develop vaccines and other control measures that will help protect people in the future.”

Baylor and Emory will enroll about 200 volunteers for the study, and all three sites will conduct laboratory research.

Study volunteers who are suspected or confirmed to be infected with Zika virus will provide blood and other samples for testing the body’s immune response to Zika infection. Participants must be first referred through their physicians or the health departments before volunteering.  

Laboratory components of the study have three objectives:

Characterize immune responses to the virus in the blood (Dr. Mark Mulligan, distinguished professor of medicine, Emory University)

Understand the cell-mediated immune response (Dr. Dan Hoft, professor of internal medicine & molecular microbiology & immunology, Saint Louis University)

Determine where the virus is in the body and how long it stays in the fluids through quantitative PCR testing, which helps detect viral genetic material in different body fluids (Dr. Kristy Murray, associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor’s National School of Tropical Medicine, associate vice-chair for research in Baylor’s Department of Pediatrics and director of the Laboratory for Vector-Borne and Viral Diseases at Texas Children’s Hospital.)

The study is open to people 15 years of age or older. The study requires up to one year of follow-up.

To learn more information, please call 713-798-4912.

This study is supported by NIH contract #HHSN272201300015I at Baylor.