By Alexandra Sifferlin
June 28, 2016
TIME Health
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A new vaccine for the Zika virus showed “complete protection” against the virus in recent testing in mice, adding support for testing the vaccine in humans in the future.

The vaccine is being developed by The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and researchers at the University of São Paulo, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. The researchers tested two versions of a Zika vaccine in mice and found that both were safe and spurred the creation of antibodies, which can offer protection against the virus.

Mouse studies are not directly translational to humans, but they are the first step in confirming that a vaccine has potential to work and not cause health complications. The new findings were published Tuesday in the journal Nature.

The race is on when it comes to developing a vaccine for the Zika virus, which is spreading in the Americas. Other research and pharmaceutical groups are developing their own versions. Earlier in June vaccine developers at Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GeneOne Life Science announced they had received the green light from U.S. health regulators to move forward on an early clinical trial for a Zika vaccine in humans. One of the greatest concerns for researchers is protecting pregnant women, since the virus is known to cause birth defects.

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