Madrid / A vaccine tested in mice protects them against a lethal dose of Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and “may be promising to develop vaccines” against other coronaviruses such as the one that causes COVID-19, according to a study published in the scientific journal mBio.
The team of researchers from the universities of Iowa and Georgia (USA) have tested the Mers vaccine candidate in genetically engineered mice to make them susceptible to infection.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) and COVID-19 are caused by separate coronaviruses, but the former is more deadly, although only 2,500 cases have been reported since 2012, compared to 76,000 in the current pandemic.
The trial found that only a “relatively low” dose of the vaccine given to rodents via the nose “was enough to fully protect the mice from a lethal dose of Mers,” says a statement from the University of Iowa.
The vaccine is based on a harmless parainfluenza virus (PIV5) that carries the “Spike” protein, which Mers uses to infect cells.
When the team analyzed the immune response generated by the vaccine candidate, they found that the animals produced both antibodies and T lymphocytes from the immune system.
The antibody response was “fairly weak” and to the researchers “it appears more likely that the protective effect of the vaccine is due to the response of T cells in the lungs of the mice.”
The team is planning more animal studies “to test the ability of PIV5-based vaccines to prevent” COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV2.
The study indicates that PIV5 “may be a useful vaccine platform for emerging coronavirus diseases,” according to Paul McCray of the University of Iowa School of Medicine.
The team also highlights several factors that make PIV5 “an attractive platform for vaccine development” against coronaviruses, including that it can infect many mammals, including humans, without causing disease.
Furthermore, PIV5 is also being investigated as a vaccine for other respiratory diseases, such as influenza, and the fact that a low dose is sufficient to protect mice could be beneficial in creating a vaccine sufficient for mass immunization. (April 8, 2020, EFE / PracticaEspañol)
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