MERS vaccine successful with camels, monkeys
In the test, the researchers administered the animals with the experimental vaccine six weeks before the animals were exposed to Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
The results showed that the rhesus macaques were fully protected against the disease. Blood samples from vaccinated camels showed that the vaccine produced potentially protective antibodies in them as well.
The scientists, who received funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), created the vaccine from earlier studies concerning a different coronavirus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). An outbreak of SARS killed over 700 people and sickened over 8,000 people in 2003 alone.
The new vaccine applies the S spike protein to create immunity to MERS-CoV. Because of the mutations of MERS-CoV, the researchers designed a “consensus” S protein through comparisons of all the MERS-CoV protein sequences currently available.
MERS-CoV is responsible for pneumonia deep within people’s lungs. It was initially discovered in 2012. Over 1,400 people have contracted the illness. An estimated 500 have died from it, mainly in Asia and the Middle East.
Further details, including the synthetic DNA vaccine, are available in the Science Translational Medicine issue from Aug. 19.