Johnson & Johnson announced that Janssen Vaccines & Prevention BV, part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, is working in partnership with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), the United United States, to validate and accelerate the development of a vaccine against the Zika virus. In addition to the scientific effort, Janssen Brasil presents the results of the Zikalab project, held in the country since 2016, to train public health professionals who are at the forefront of providing care to the population in the areas most affected by the virus.
The news will be presented during the Brazilian premiere of the documentary Unseen Enemy (“Enemy Invisible”), supported by the company, which alerts the global community about the risk of new pandemics caused by viruses such as Zika, Influenza and Ebola. The release takes place on December 5, in Recife , where the recording was performed on Zika.
In partnership with the National Council of Municipal Health Secretaries (CONASEMS) and the Institute for Research and Support to Social Development (IPADS), Zikalab has trained about 7,000 health professionals in 37 municipalities in six states (Pernambuco, Pernambuco , Bahia, Mato Grosso , Minas Gerais, Tocantins and Paraíba), focusing on prevention and care for pregnant women, mothers and babies with microcephaly.
“The outbreak of the Zika virus has profoundly affected families and the health system in Brazil and has required a rapid and intense mobilization of all sectors of society.The Zikalab is an example of how collaboration between various institutions, whether public or private, can positively impact public health challenges, “says Bruno Costa Gabriel , president of Janssen Brazil . “Training enables health professionals to be empowered and prepared to respond to the threat of the virus,” says Fernanda Pimentel , Johnson & Johnson’s chief medical officer for Latin America. So far, the company has invested around R $ 2.3 million in support to the country in coping with the disease.
In addition to this collaboration, Janssen makes every effort to find an immunizer against Zika through its innovative AdVac® platform that enables faster development of a variety of vaccine candidates based on adenovirus vectors for a range of diseases . Tested by the BIDMC, the vaccine provided, at an early stage, the second preclinical study, complete protection against Zika following a single primate immunization, making it a promising candidate for testing in humans.
“Our partnership with BIDMC unites the brightest scientific minds and the latest technologies in an effort to develop the vaccine,” explains Paul Stoffels , Johnson’s Chief Scientific Officer.
Another example of scientific exchange was the support to studies of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ-COPPE) on the Zika virus in 2016. For the first time, a Brazilian project won a challenge from JLabs – incubator network of the innovation platform Johnson & Johnson. For six months, researcher Leda Castilho and her team had access to state-of-the-art labs, mentoring, and cutting-edge infrastructure to accelerate their research.