TOKOYO, Jul 29: A vaccine for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) tested in animal experiments holds promise for developing a similar human MERS vaccination, researchers say.
There is currently no known cure or licensed vaccine available for the disease, which was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Scientists at the vaccine research center of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said on Tuesday that they had managed to provoke an immune response in animals using a two-step approach in mice and monkeys.
In their study, vaccines were first administered to mice, which produced antibodies that neutralized MERS strains.
The vaccines that sparked the immune system responses in mice were then administered to monkeys. According to the study, the vaccinated monkeys were protected from severe lung infection of MERS when exposed to the virus.
The study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications, gives the hope that the immune system response sparked in animals could lead to a vaccine for people.
Researchers are now working on versions of the vaccine that could be tested in clinical trials for humans as they say more research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of this vaccine in humans.
MERS is part of the coronavirus family of viruses, which includes the common cold and SARS. It can cause symptoms including fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure.
The disease has almost killed 500 people worldwide.