The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is caused by a novel coronavirus. Since its identification in 2012, MERS has been linked to over 1,300 infections and about 400 deaths. Researchers have revealed that an experimental synthetic vaccine given six weeks before exposure to MERS coronavirus fully protects rhesus macaques from disease.
The experimental vaccine also generated potentially protective antibodies in blood drawn from camels, the purported source of MERS transmission in the Middle East. This shows that this vaccine could be deployed to break this link in the MERS transmission cycle.
Study first author Karuppiah Muthumani, research assistant professor at Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania in the US, said, "This simple synthetic vaccine has the potential to overcome important production and deployment limitations, and what is more, the vaccine is non-live, so does not pose a risk of spreading to unintended individuals."
The researchers said, "This new vaccine could decrease person-to-person spread of infection in the event of an outbreak and help to protect health care workers or exposed individuals."
The findings were published in Science Translational Medicine (STM).