MERS vaccine – Scientists have developed a prototype vaccine against the deadly virus that has shown promising results.
Research led by the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated the vaccine’s protective effect in monkeys and camels. The experts claimed that the experimental vaccine could be a valuable tool in two different ways. First, it can be used to immunize the hosts, in this case camels, in order to prevent the spread of the virus to human population. Second, it can help boost the resistance of those who are at risk of getting MERS.
During the trial, the DNA synthetic vaccine was tested on blood samples taken from camels and it initiated the production of antibodies that may help mount a defense against the virus. Later, it was given to MERS exposed monkeys but the animals did not develop any signs of the disease.
“The data show that the vaccine is capable of generating protective antibodies in laboratory studies and also in camels,” said Dr. Andrew Easton, one of the researchers from Warwick University. “This is very promising as a possible way to reduce virus spread in camels and therefore to reduce the risk of infection in human,” he added.
Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a respiratory infection caused by Coronavirus, often abbreviated as MERS-CoV. Initially, it causes flu-like symptoms but they can progress to a severe respiratory illness that can be fatal. There is currently no vaccine to combat the aforementioned microorganism, which have killed around 36 % of infected people.
MERS-COV was first identified in 2012 when it emerged in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The infection has spread to other countries in the Arabian Peninsula and beyond, including South Korea, Germany and the United States. In the recent past, scientists have suggested that mammals play a role in spreading MERS. For example, a study suggested MERS might have started in bats, and another that MERS could be carried by camels. IMAGE/upi.com