Clinical trial for MERS vaccine planned

Since the first diagnosis of MERS in 2012, 1,333 cases of the viral infection have been confirmed.
By Stephen Feller  |  June 22, 2015 at 11:09 AM
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MUNICH, Germany, June 22 (UPI) -- Three years after the first case of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, was confirmed in Saudi Arabia, researchers are preparing to enter clinical tests on a vaccine for the virus.

Since the first diagnosis in 2012, 1,333 cases have been confirmed, including the recent outbreak in North Korea.

The safety-tested Modified Vaccinia virus Ankara, or MVA, synthesizes a protein that binds onto the surface of cells infected with the MERS virus. The immune system can identify the cells and produce antibodies and T cells to fight the infection.

Mice in the lab were vaccinated and then exposed to "high levels" of MERS. The virus was shown to not replicate in vaccinated mice, meeting requirements for human clinical tests of the vaccine to be started.

"This demonstrates that our vaccine candidate is both safe and effective," said Professor Gerd Sutter, chair of virology at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich's Institute for Infectious Diseases and Zoonoses, in a press release. "Thus, there is no obvious risk that the resulting immune response might exacerbate rather than prevent the infection."

The study is published in Journal of Virology.

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