MERS vaccine being prepped for clinical trials: 3 things to know

Although Gerd Sutter, MD, chair of virology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich, and his team initially reported developing a vaccine candidate for the MERS coronavirus two years ago, new research published in the Journal of Virology says planning for clinical trials is now underway.

MERS was first discovered in Saudi Arabia in 2012. The current South Korean outbreak is the largest on record thus far outside of the Middle East. Currently, there is no protective vaccine against the virus.

Here are three things to know about the vaccine candidate.

• Researchers have altered the structure of the vaccine candidate, named MVA-MERS-S, in such a way that the genetic information of other viral pathogens can be spliced into it. This amounts to introducing the immune system to the virus in a safe way. It becomes familiar with MERS and develops the necessary antibodies to fend against the virus should it be contracted at a later date.
• The vaccine candidate has effectively induced protective immunity in mice genetically modified to be susceptible to the disease.
• The German Center for Infection Research has granted approximately $1.5 million to the project.

More articles on infection control:

7 lessons from the MERS outbreak in South Korea
Infection control lapses lead to spread of MERS, study finds
Infection control best practices for better MERS detection and population tracking 

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