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Mosquito saliva vaccine? NIH tests new way to fight illness

Rather than separate vaccines against Zika or other mosquito-borne diseases, the new approach aims to protect against multiple infections by triggering the immune system to rev up in response to the bite itself. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wanted: 60 people willing to be bitten by mosquitoes to test a new kind of vaccine — one that acts against the bugs' saliva.

Rather than separate vaccines against Zika or other mosquito-borne diseases, the new approach aims to protect against multiple infections by triggering the immune system to rev up in response to the bite itself.

The National Institutes of Health is recruiting volunteers for a safety study of the experimental vaccine, being developed by two London companies.

Researchers at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will give volunteers either vaccine or dummy shots. The volunteers must return later to NIH's Bethesda, Maryland, hospital to be bitten by mosquitoes through a special netted device. The mosquitoes are infection-free; researchers will track the volunteers' immune responses.

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