Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise

GOOD SHOT  A test vaccine given to camels and monkeys gins up immunity against the MERS virus (shown here in a colorized micrograph).

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An experimental vaccine against the MERS virus triggers immune protection, a new study finds. The lethal Middle East respiratory syndrome, caused by a coronavirus that spreads from person to person, can lead to pneumonia.

The vaccine contains DNA much like the virus uses to encode a protein for cell entry. Two of three vaccinated dromedary camels — known carriers of the MERS virus — produced neutralizing antibodies against the virus. Eight of eight rhesus macaques did so as well. When exposed to live MERS virus four weeks after the third vaccine shot, none of the monkeys developed pneumonia. Four unvaccinated monkeys did, researchers report in the Aug. 19 Science Translational Medicine.

Last month, researchers reported that tests of other vaccines, using viral DNA or a viral protein, also generated antibodies against MERS, in mice and monkeys.

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