A potential candidate vaccine for the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has demonstrated protection in non-human primates, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communication.
MERS-CoV was first discovered in 2012, which can cause a viral respiratory disease in humans. Between 1,118 and 1,142 cases and 423 to 465 deaths have been attributed to the virus since its discovery. There is currently no cure for the disease.
The vaccine candidate made by a team of U.S. researchers showed success in producing immunity in mice and macaques against the JordanN3 strain of the virus, the research report said.
They said inoculating animals with DNA encoding one of the viral proteins and a truncated viral protein could elicit the production of a range of neutralising antibodies in the blood of mice and macaques. Immunization of the macaques conferred protection against MERS-CoV-induced pneumonia.
This immunization strategy was the first to induce MERS-CoV neutralizing antibodies that targeted multiple structures, both inside and outside the virus, which might reduce the ability of the virus to avoid future detection by the immune system through mutation, the researchers said.
However, they also said MERS-CoV infection in primates showed significantly milder disease progression than in humans so it was therefore unclear if the vaccine would be capable of protecting people from the symptoms associated with much more severe disease.
More research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of this vaccine in humans, they added.