A new candidate vaccine for MERS proves efficient on camels and raises hope that the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome pandemic could be brought to an end.
Since the camel-borne virus causing MERS was first discovered in Saudi Arabia in 2012, MERS has slowly crept to more and more states, this year marking an outbreak in South Korea. Due to the lack of vaccines to tackles the camel-borne virus both at the source and in humans, MERS promises to become a global pandemic.
And a dangerous one nonetheless. MERS doesn’t manifest through violent symptoms or very recognizable ones. Symptoms are merely as harsh as those of a common cold in the beginning. Easily confounded for a common cold, the camel-borne virus causing MERS can attack internal organs and lead to death. Sadly, more than one third of identified MERS patients have died since the emergence of the virus in 2012.
The scientific community is working around the clock to bring a candidate vaccine that could stop the further spread of MERS. The virus causing MERS is camel-borne. Released from the respiratory tract through nasal secretion, coronaviruses cause both animal-to-animal infection and animal-to-human infection.
Since the MERS pandemic is tracked, very few cases of human-to-human infection have been registered. However, with camels, symptoms are not visible at all. Except for nasal secretion, the bearers of the virus are relatively safe. MERS is almost invisible until it strikes in humans. To tackle the issue, the best option is to find a candidate vaccine that can eradicate the virus in camels.
As such, one team comprising researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Animal Health Research Center reports in the journal Science that a new candidate vaccine for MERS proves efficient on camels. The vaccine was developed based on proteins that can neutralize coronaviruses and tested on four camels.
A total of eight camels were used in the study. Four of them were vaccinated against the virus causing MERS, while the other four were used as control. Following, the vaccinated camels were observed to release less viruses through nasal secretions and the respiratory tract. Nonetheless, the candidate vaccine did not fully erase the viruses. Still, a slow-down may prove a beneficial starting point.
MERS affect people who may already have been diagnosed with diabetes or lung disease the most. After the common cold-like symptoms, pneumonia and kidney failure may settle in, in addition to constant high fever and respiratory problems.
Photo Credits: Pixabay
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