Study finds promising experimental MERS vaccine

MERS virusAn experimental vaccine for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) showed promising results in animal testing, sparking an immune system response that could lead to a vaccine for people, researchers said Tuesday.

Currently there are no licensed vaccines for MERS, which first appeared in 2012 and has caused numerous scares including a recent deadly outbreak in South Korea.

Vaccinated mice produced antibodies that neutralized MERS strains, according to a study from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The vaccines that caused the largest immune responses in mice were then administered to monkeys.

The monkeys were protected from a serious lung infection characteristic of MERS when given the experimental vaccines and then exposed to a version of the virus, the study said.

The study with the promising findings was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Researchers are now working on versions of the vaccine that could be tested in clinical trials for humans.

The MERS outbreak in South Korea in May infected some 180 people, killing 36. The World Health Organization has identified 1,368 cases since 2012 including 490 deaths, most of them in Saudi Arabia.

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