NYBC’s Laboratory of Viral Immunology at its Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute has received a significant grant to continue development of a vaccine against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – one of the most dangerous emerging viruses. Lanying Du., Ph.D., Co-head of the laboratory, was awarded more than $400,000 for this program.
MERS-CoV is a novel coronavirus causing outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like illness in the Middle East andEurope. As of January 3, 2014, the World Health Organization had been informed of a total of 177 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 74 deaths. Because of its human-to-human transmissibility and high mortality rate (42%), MERS-CoV was called “a threat to the entire world” by Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of WHO at the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva. The Obama administration designated MERS-CoV a threat to public health and national security, and authorized the fast-tracking of approvals of tests and treatments for MERS-CoV.
Based on NYBC’s previous experience in developing SARS vaccines, the Laboratory of Viral Immunology identified the receptor-binding domain and major neutralizing epitope that can be used for developing an anti-MERS vaccine. The NIH grant will support further development of this vaccine candidate for prevention of MERS-CoV infection and halting the spread of this deadly virus. InAugust 2013, Nature Medicine identified NYBC as among the pioneers in MERS-CoV vaccine research.
Source: New York Blood Center