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U.S. Army partners with French pharma giant to speed up Zika vaccine

Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi says it is joining efforts with U.S. Army researchers to speed up development of a potential Zika vaccine.

France-based Sanofi SA said in a statement Wednesday that the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research will transfer its Zika vaccine technology to Sanofi Pasteur, the company's vaccine arm. Sanofi views the agreement as "opening the door for a broader collaboration with the U.S. government."

"We're looking at this from both a short- and long-term perspective, collaborating to get into the clinic quicker to provide a vaccine in response to the current emergency, and adapting our own technology to ensure production capacity of a vaccine for years to come," said John Shiver, PhD, senior vice president for research and development at Sanofi.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Vaccine development usually takes years. Sanofi made the first vaccine shot against dengue -- a mosquito-borne virus which is related to Zika -- but it required 20 years of development and $1 billion.

Sanofi and U.S. researchers are trying to leverage experience with related viruses to accelerate work on Zika amid the current outbreak, which spread from its epicenter in Brazil last year through much of Latin America and the Caribbean.

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