Covidum is an antibody vaccine taken from blood in people who are sick or recovering from polio, hepatitis or measles. It works by attacking the virus-infected part of the body’s own cells. The goal is to target and prevent cell-surface damage, which then prevents the virus from replicating and spreading.
It was the first vaccine in the world to combat these three major diseases.
The next big fight will be against a radically different virus: Zika, which has been increasing in the Americas in recent years.
Zika presents a new challenge for scientists in part because the virus is increasingly transmitted by mosquito (the Aedes aegypti). In previous studies, scientists have isolated Zika from human placentas, which are sometimes taken from birth mothers to learn more about their earlier life in a growing fetus.
Last week, a group of scientists announced a study that could make human placentas in the future a way to generate their own Zika vaccine. They infected several Zika-positive human placentas with different types of Zika virus. The researchers then got a breakdown of which cells were activated and which were killed — a key factor in determining whether the person could develop immunity.