Zika Funds Could Arrive for Connecticut Labs

If Congress acts on spending $1.9 billion to fight Zika, Connecticut laboratories could see boosts or the research and vaccine development efforts.

One of those labs is Protein Sciences in Meriden. The company is known already for its FluBlok vaccine that fights influenza, and the company’s CEO told NBC Connecticut that since they are already known to both the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, they can end up at the forefront of the Zika fighting crusade.

"I do think that the technology that we use is one of the most likely candidates that very rapidly leads to approval simply because it is built on a platform that has already been reviewed and approved for an influenza vaccine by the agency, by the FDA,” said Manon Cox, who’s been with the company as President and CEO since 2010.

Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal called on their colleagues again today to pass a Zika spending measure. They said the most recent version of bill includes political “poison pills” like defunding Planned Parenthood and defunding the Affordable Care Act.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that leads to severe birth defects in newborns. Pregnant woman and women who may become pregnant are the most at risk and have been urged by the federal government to avoid travelling to infected areas in Central and South America.

Of the $1.9 billion, more than a half a billion would be diverted from Ebola prevention and research to Zika prevention and research.

Cox said such an injection of funds could mean the company could develop a Zika vaccine sooner.

"I think with additional funding we can get that done within a year time because that would definitely accelerate progress but otherwise it might take quite a few years."

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