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Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

Date:
July 28, 2015
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Summary:
A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against MERS prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques. Vaccinated mice produced broadly neutralizing antibodies against multiple strains of the MERS coronavirus, while vaccinated macaques were protected from severe lung damage when later exposed to MERS-CoV. The findings suggest that the current approach, in which vaccine design is guided by an understanding of structure of viral components and their interactions with host cells, holds promise for developing a similar human MERS vaccine regimen.
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This is a colorized micrograph of the MERS coronavirus.
Credit: NIAID

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. Vaccinated mice produced broadly neutralizing antibodies against multiple strains of the MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV), while vaccinated macaques were protected from severe lung damage when later exposed to MERS-CoV. The findings suggest that the current approach, in which vaccine design is guided by an understanding of structure of viral components and their interactions with host cells, holds promise for developing a similar human MERS vaccine regimen.

Currently, no licensed vaccines are available for MERS, a disease that first appeared in 2012. An outbreak in the Republic of Korea that began in May has caused more than 180 confirmed infections, including 36 deaths, through July 15 as well as widespread social disruption.

The research team was led by Barney S. Graham, M.D., Ph.D., Wing-Pui Kong, Ph.D., and colleagues at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Vaccine Research Center. The investigators used structural information about a viral protein called the spike (S) glycoprotein, which MERS-CoV uses to enter cells, to design a number of experimental vaccines that they administered to mice in a two-step regimen involving an initial "priming" injection followed several weeks later by the same or a different "booster" vaccine.

The three prime-boost regimens that elicited the most robust immune responses in mice were then tested in groups of macaques and were found to elicit similar immune system responses. A separate group of 18 macaques (12 vaccinated, six unvaccinated) were exposed to MERS-CoV 19 weeks after the vaccinated animals received the boost injection. Although macaques do not develop overt MERS disease, the researchers observed that unvaccinated animals experienced lung abnormalities indicative of pneumonia that were more profound and longer lasting than those seen in the vaccinated animals. The team is now working on refining the vaccine candidates and may eventually test a second-generation vaccine candidate in clinical trials.


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Materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lingshu Wang, Wei Shi, M. Gordon Joyce, Kayvon Modjarrad, Yi Zhang, Kwanyee Leung, Christopher R. Lees, Tongqing Zhou, Hadi M. Yassine, Masaru Kanekiyo, Zhi-yong Yang, Xuejun Chen, Michelle M. Becker, Megan Freeman, Leatrice Vogel, Joshua C. Johnson, Gene Olinger, John P. Todd, Ulas Bagci, Jeffrey Solomon, Daniel J. Mollura, Lisa Hensley, Peter Jahrling, Mark R. Denison, Srinivas S. Rao, Kanta Subbarao, Peter D. Kwong, John R. Mascola, Wing-Pui Kong, Barney S. Graham. Evaluation of candidate vaccine approaches for MERS-CoV. Nature Communications, 2015; 6: 7712 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8712

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150728120149.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (2015, July 28). Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150728120149.htm
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150728120149.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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