A new type of coronavirus has been identified as the causative agent underlying Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has spread in the Middle East, but cases originating in the Middle East have also occurred in the European Union and the USA. Eight hundred and thirty-seven cases of MERS-CoV infection have been confirmed to date, including 291 deaths. MERS-CoV has infected dromedary camel populations in the Middle East at high rates, representing an immediate source of human infection. The MERS-CoV spike (S) protein, a characteristic structural component of the viral envelope, is considered as a key target of vaccines against coronavirus infection. In an initial attempt to develop a MERS-CoV vaccine to ultimately target dromedary camels, we constructed two recombinant adenoviral vectors encoding the full-length MERS-CoV S protein (Ad5.MERS-S) and the S1 extracellular domain of S protein (Ad5.MERS-S1). BALB/c mice were immunized with both candidate vaccines intramuscularly and boosted three weeks later intranasally. All the vaccinated animals had antibody responses against spike protein, which neutralized MERS-CoV in vitro. These results show that an adenoviral-based vaccine can induce MERS-CoV-specific immune responses in mice and hold promise for the development of a preventive vaccine that targets the animal reservoir, which might be an effective measure to eliminate transmission of MERS-CoV to humans.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.08.058, hdl.handle.net/1765/83286
Department of Virology

Kim, E., Okada, K., Kenniston, T., Raj, S., AlHajri, M., Farag, E., … Gambotto, A. (2014). Immunogenicity of an adenoviral-based Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus vaccine in BALB/c mice. Vaccine. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.08.058