Experimental Zika vaccine to begin human testing

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A photo taken on March 4, 2016 shows flyers and posters during launch of the campaign "Ici je m'Engage" for professionals to fight against the zika virus in Petit-Bourg, in the French overseas region of Guadeloupe. / AFP / Helene Valenzuela (Photo credit should read HELENE VALENZUELA/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — An experimental vaccine for the Zika virus is due to begin human testing in coming weeks, after getting the green light from U.S. health officials.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals said Monday that it received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to begin early-stage safety tests of its DNA-based vaccine against the mosquito-borne virus.

The company’s vaccine is intended to prime the immune system to fight Zika by introducing genetically-engineered materials that resemble the virus. Inovio reports that animals tested with the vaccine developed antibodies and other cells that attack Zika.

Inovio and its partner, GeneOne Life Science, plan to begin a 40-person study to determine the safest dose of the vaccine in coming weeks.