NewLink Genetics says working on Zika vaccine

(Reuters) - U.S. drug developer NewLink Genetics Corp joined the race to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus, a day after the World Health Organization declared the mosquito-borne disease an international public health emergency.

NewLink said on Tuesday it had initiated a project to develop new treatment options for the disease.

NewLink is also developing an ebola vaccine with Merck that has proved to be highly effective against the deadly virus in a large trial in Guinea.

Drugmakers across the world are trying to develop vaccines to counter the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil.

Zika, a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya, causes mild fever and rash. An estimated 80 percent of those infected suffer no symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have been infected.

On Tuesday, France’s Sanofi SA said it had launched a project to develop a vaccine against the virus.

The University of South Australia also said it was working with Sementis Ltd to develop a vaccine. (

Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline Plc has said it is studying whether its vaccine technology can be used against the virus.

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee and Amrutha Penumudi in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva