Animal model shows early promise for SARS vaccine

December 04, 2003

US authors of a research letter in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlight preliminary findings which could mark an important step in the development of a human vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). A genetically engineered vaccine was found to be effective in triggering an immune reaction among six rhesus macaques.

A new form of coronavirus (SARS-CoV) was identified as the causal agent of SARS earlier this year. Andrea Gambotto from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention genetically altered a common-cold virus so it became similar to parts of the SARS coronavirus and injected it intramuscularly into six rhesus macaques; two other macaques received a dummy vaccine as a control. Booster injections were given 28 days after initial vaccination.

Six weeks after vaccination, T-cells and antibodies against SARS were detected in all six of the immunized animals, but not in either of the control animals. The intensity of the response varied, but was generally largest after the booster vaccination.

Andrea Gambotto comments: "These results show that a vaccine can induce strong SARS-CoV-specific immune responses in the monkey, and hold promise for development of a protective vaccine against the SARS causal agent."
Issue 6 December 2003
Lancet 2003; 362: 1895-96

Contact: Frank Raczkiewicz or Jocelyn Uhl, University of Pittsburgh News Bureau; T) 412-647-3555; F) 412-624-3184; E)


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