Latest research reveals a SARS vaccine may be on the horizon. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health report promising results from a study involving eight African green monkeys. Four of the monkeys were immunized against the SARS virus using an intranasal vaccine made from a parainfluenza vaccine originally developed for children. The vaccine was reengineered to express a major antigen of the coronavirus that causes SARS. The other four monkeys did not receive the vaccine. About a month later, all were deliberately infected with SARS.
Results showed the monkeys who received the vaccine had developed antibodies to the SARS virus in their blood, indicating the vaccine was working. They also had no evidence of the virus in their respiratory tract. The monkeys that were not vaccinated, however, showed evidence of active infection within five to eight days of receiving the virus.
In another study, investigators tested another type of SARS prevention, known as a neutralizing human monoclonal antibody, in ferrets that were also deliberately infected with SARS. Results showed the animals had significantly reduced levels of the virus in their lungs and did not develop any SARS-induced lung damage.
Researchers say, though further studies are required before these concepts can be applied to human beings, the findings provide exciting strategies for the prevention of disease in target communities and treatment of at-risk individuals.