Experimental vaccine for MERS developed

The experimental vaccine is based on a platform for a candidate that is said to protect against SARS

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A U.S. biotechnology firm and university researchers have reportedly created an experimental vaccine against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), according to media reports.

Maryland University and Gaithersburg biotech Novavax announced that the vaccine for combating coronavirus has succeeded in stopping infection in laboratory studies, the Saudi Gazette reported on Sunday.

Saudi Arabia has been the country most affected by the outbreak of the MERS virus. The number of fatalities on Saturday reached 139 since MERS first appeared in the kingdom in 2012, the Saudi health ministry announced.

According to the Gazette, the experimental vaccine is based on a platform for a candidate that is said to protect against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.

Both MERS and SARS are coronaviruses.

“You’re blocking the attachment of the antibody to the human cell,” Dr. Gregory Glenn, the senior vice president of research and development at Novavax was quoted as saying by the Gazette.

“When you have an immune response to the virus, the virus is destroyed,” Glenn added.

Gale Smith, vice president of vaccine development at Novavax, said in a statement carried by Washington Business Journal that the biotechnology firm will “continue to evaluate” the vaccine.

“Novavax will continue to evaluate this technology to produce highly immunogenic nanoparticles for coronavirus, influenza, and other human disease pathogens with the potential for pandemic and sustained human to human transmission,” Smith said.

U.S. patient makes recovery

The news comes after the first American diagnosed with the mysterious virus was released from an Indiana hospital and is considered fully recovered, the hospital said Friday, according to The Associated Press.

Community Hospital chief medical information officer Dr. Alan Kumar said the patient now tests negative for MERS and “poses no threat to the community.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the patient is an American man. He flew from Saudi Arabia to Chicago on April 24 and took a bus to Indiana. He sought treatment last Monday and was diagnosed with MERS.

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