French pharmaceuticals firm Sanofi today revealed it has teamed up with the US military to accelerate development of a vaccine for the Zika virus which has swept through South and Central America.
Sanofi said that it had agreed to work with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) which will hand over its Zika vaccine technology. The French firm would further develop the research while giving the WRAIR access to its findings.
"We're looking at... collaborating to get into the clinic quicker to provide a vaccine in response to the current emergency,” said John Shiver of Sanofi.
Global health officials are still trying to fully understand the Zika virus. After a high profile outbreak in Brazil last year, local government called a state of emergency November 2015.
In February 2016, the World Health Organisation announced a global public health emergency across 20 countries in the Americas due to the rapid spread of the virus.
The outbreak in Brazil has threaten to overshadow the upcoming Olympic Games that start on 5 August 2016. A number of athletes, such as golfers Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, have withdrawn from competing on health concerns.
WRAIR had managed to create an experimental vaccine that gave 100 percent protection in mice against the Zika virus, according to a study published last week.
Meanwhile, Sanofi was expecting to commence its own trials in 2017 after leveraging its knowledge of mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever.