World Health Organization Says SARS-Like Illness “A Threat to the Entire World”
New York, NY, January 20, 2014 — 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 and Europe. 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. In August 2013, Nature Medicine identified NYBC as among the pioneers in MERS-CoV vaccine research.
Please note: Research noted here is supported by the National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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