Newswise - In a new study, researchers have modified a rabies virus, so that it has a protein from the MERS virus; this altered virus works as a 2-for-1 vaccine that protects mice against both Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and rabies.
Because it uses an already-tested vaccine for rabies, the innovative combination could speed development of a MERS vaccine for humans. Currently no vaccine exists for this new and highly fatal virus. The study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Virology, found that the vaccine protected mice from infection with MERS.
"This is the first time anyone has used this strategy to create a MERS vaccine," said the lead researcher on the study, Matthew B. Frieman, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the school. "This could give us a powerful mechanism to fight the virus."
MERS has killed more than 630 people since it was first discovered four years ago in Saudi Arabia. It has infected more than 1,800, meaning that about a third of those who are infected die - a very high fatality rate for an infectious disease. It appears that the disease spreads to humans from camels, who may themselves been infected by bats. Research has shown that MERS is similar to Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which emerged in 2003 and resulted in more than 8,000 infections, killing 10 percent of patients. Both diseases, which are caused by Coronaviruses, cause serious respiratory problems.
Oh yea, I'll run right out and get that one.