Nav: Home

Successful MERS vaccine in mice may hold promise for COVID-19 vaccine

April 07, 2020

Researchers at the University of Iowa and the University of Georgia have developed a vaccine that fully protects mice against a lethal dose of MERS, a close cousin of the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The vaccine uses a harmless virus to deliver a MERS coronavirus protein into cells to generate an immune response, and may hold promise for developing vaccines against other coronaviruses diseases, including COVID-19.

The team led by Paul McCray, MD, at the UI Carver College of Medicine, and Biao He, PhD, at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, tested a MERS vaccine candidate in mice engineered to be susceptible to the MERS coronavirus. The vaccine is an innocuous parainfluenza virus (PIV5) carrying the "spike" protein that MERS uses to infect cells. All the vaccinated mice survived a lethal dose of the MERS coronavirus. The results of the study were published April 7 in the journal mBio.

"Our new study indicates that PIV5 may be a useful vaccine platform for emerging coronavirus diseases, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," says McCray, UI professor of pediatrics. "Using the same strategy, vaccine candidates based on PIV5 expressing the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 have been generated. We are planning more studies in animals to test the ability of PIV5-based vaccines in preventing disease caused by SARS-CoV-2."

MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and COVID-19 are both caused by coronaviruses. MERS is deadlier and is fatal in about one third of known cases, but there have been only 2,494 cases since 2012, when the virus first emerged. In contrast, there have been over 1.25 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide since it first emerged in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, and almost 70,000 people have died from the disease.

The study found that just one, relatively low dose of the vaccine given to the mice intranasally (inhaled through the nose) was sufficient to fully protect all the treated mice from a lethal dose of MERS coronavirus.

When the researchers analyzed the immune responses generated by the vaccine, they found that both antibodies and protective T cells were produced. However, the antibody response was quite weak and it seems most likely that the vaccine's protective effect is due to the T cell response in the mouse lungs.

The researchers note several factors that make PIV5 expressing a coronavirus spike protein an appealing platform for vaccine development against emerging coronaviruses. First, PIV5 can infect many different mammals, including humans, without causing disease. PIV5 is also being investigated as a vaccine for other respiratory diseases including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza. Second, the fact that a low dose of the vaccine was sufficient to protect the mice might be beneficial for creating enough vaccine for mass immunization. And finally, the vaccine in the current study was the most effective MERS vaccine to date in animal models of the disease.
-end-
In addition to McCray, who also holds an appointment the UI Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and He, who is a professor of infectious disease at the University of Georgia, the research team included Kun Li, Christine Wohlford-Lenane, David Meyerholz, Rudragouda Channappanavar, and Stanley Perlman at the UI; and Zhuo Li and Dong An at the University of Georgia.

The research was funded in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. McCray is supported by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust. Biao He is supported by endowment of Fred C. Davison Distinguished University Chair in Veterinary Medicine.

University of Iowa Health Care

Related Protein Articles:

Substituting the next-best protein
Children born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy have a mutation in the X-chromosome gene that would normally code for dystrophin, a protein that provides structural integrity to skeletal muscles.
A direct protein-to-protein binding couples cell survival to cell proliferation
The regulators of apoptosis watch over cell replication and the decision to enter the cell cycle.
A protein that controls inflammation
A study by the research team of Prof. Geert van Loo (VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research) has unraveled a critical molecular mechanism behind autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, and psoriasis.
Resurrecting ancient protein partners reveals origin of protein regulation
After reconstructing the ancient forms of two cellular proteins, scientists discovered the earliest known instance of a complex form of protein regulation.
Sensing protein wellbeing
The folding state of the proteins in live cells often reflect the cell's general health.
Protein injections in medicine
One day, medical compounds could be introduced into cells with the help of bacterial toxins.
Discovery of an unusual protein
Scientists from Bremen discover an unusual protein playing a significant role in the Earth's nitrogen cycle.
Protein aggregation: Protein assemblies relevant not only for neurodegenerative disease
Amyloid fibrils play a crucial role in neurodegenerative illnesses. Scientists from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and Forschungszentrum Jülich have now been able to use cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to decode the spatial structure of the fibrils that are formed from PI3K SH3 domains - an important model system for research.
Old protein, new tricks: UMD connects a protein to antibody immunity for the first time
How can a protein be a major contributor in the development of birth defects, and also hold the potential to provide symptom relief from autoimmune diseases like lupus?
Infection-fighting protein also senses protein misfolding in non-infected cells
Researchers at the University of Toronto have uncovered an immune mechanism by which host cells combat bacterial infection, and at the same time found that a protein crucial to that process can sense and respond to misfolded proteins in all mammalian cells.
More Protein News and Protein Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.