Scientists say they have produced a prototype vaccine against the lung infection MERS coronavirus that has shown promising results.
According to the study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the vaccine has been successful in guarding monkeys and camels against the deadly disease.
“The data show that the vaccine is capable of generating protective antibodies in laboratory studies and also in camels,” explained Professor Andrew Easton of Warwick University who participated in the research led by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
“This is very promising as a possible way to reduce virus spread in camels and therefore to reduce the risk of infection in humans,” he added.
MERS (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome) has infected 1,400 people and claimed 500 lives since 2012. It has occurred in Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, and in the US, with no treatment or preventative medicines to fight disease.
The recent 2015 MERS outbreak in South Korea raised an alarm as the infection spread from one patient to over 181 people, resulting in hospital closings, severe economic impact and more than 30 deaths.
A cousin of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), MERS causes coughing, fever, pneumonia and kidney failure but it does not appear to be as contagious as SARS, which killed some 800 people in a 2003 epidemic.
According to the World Health Organization, the disease has an overall mortality rate of 35 percent.
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