A blood samples from pregnant women wait to be analyzed for the presence of the Zika virus, at Guatemalan Social Security maternity hospital in Guatemala City, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
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Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Thursday said it is developing a vaccine to prevent the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects, and has secured funding from a U.S. government agency.Takeda has been conducting preclinical testing for several months and hopes to begin Phase I trials in healthy volunteers in the second half of 2017, Rajeev Venkayya, head of global vaccines for Takeda, said in a telephone interview.BARDA said that including the Takeda funding, it has so far committed $76 million to help develop Zika vaccines, diagnostics, blood screening tests and other technologies to fight the virus.Inovio Pharmaceuticals, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health have already begun human trials of vaccine candidates.
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