University of Iowa Human Toxicology faculty member Paul McCray has been working to develop a vaccine that would be used against SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. McCray and Biao He, PhD, at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, tested a MERS vaccine candidate in mice engineered to be susceptible to the MERS coronavirus. MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and COVID-19 are both caused by coronaviruses. MERS is deadlier and is fatal in about one third of known cases. The study found that just one, relatively low dose of the vaccine (PIV5) given to the mice, inhaled through the nose, was sufficient to fully protect all the treated mice from a lethal dose of MERS coronavirus.
The researchers note several factors that make PIV5 expressing a coronavirus spike protein an appealing platform for vaccine development against emerging coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.
The research was funded in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (AI060699, DK-54759), and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
(Picture courtesy of the National Institutes of Health)