The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) in South Korea has announced it will launch a project to accelerate the research and development of vaccines for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a viral respiratory illness caused by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
First detected in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, MERS-CoV has been reported in several countries, causing 1,478 cases and 516 deaths globally. It was responsible for a recent outbreak in South Korea with 185 cases and 36 deaths reported. There is currently no vaccine or antiretroviral treatment for MERS-CoV infection.
Samsung Medical Center will support the effort with a grant of $34 million over five years. The funding will be used to identify the most promising vaccines currently ready for testing and to begin human studies as quickly and safely as possible.
IVI is in the process of discussion and partnering with groups that have data suggesting protection in animal models and anticipates = an initial set of collaborators to be assembled shortly.
“We are extremely grateful to Samsung for their very generous contribution,” said Dr. Jerome Kim, IVI’s Director General, “Thanks to Samsung, we will be able to harness the best resources and capabilities in Korea and internationally to develop new, safe and effective MERS vaccines.”
On September 10, the Institute will host the 2015 Shinil-IVI Global Vaccine Forum: International MERS Symposium in Seoul, South Korea. Sponsored by Shinil and the Korea Support Committee for the IVI (KSC), the symposium will convene leading scientists and experts in public health, infectious diseases and vaccine development from Korea and internationally. They will present the latest translational and clinical research on MERS-CoV, and discuss opportunities for the development of MERS-CoV countermeasures, particularly in the area of vaccines.