Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Vaccine candidate against MERS coronavirus reveals efficacy in mouse model


The MERS coronavirus can cause severe, potentially lethal infections in human patients. An authorised vaccine is not available, so far. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut in collaboration with various research groups at the German Center for Infection Research (Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung (DZIF) have developed a vaccine on the basis of a measles virus vaccine strain. This vaccine is highly immunogenic and challenge experiments indicate protection of vaccinated animals. The Journal of Virology reports on these results in its online edition of 09 September 2015.

During the development of “vaccine platforms” against emerging pathogens such as the MERS coronavirus (MERS CoV), selected genetic sequences of the pathogen are integrated into a vaccine vector, for which extensive clinical experience is available.

Photo taken using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of released MERS-CoV particles (virions)

Source: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Vaccination with such vectors induces immune response both against the vaccine vector and the pathogen’s antigen, which is encoded in the added genetic sequences. The vector vaccine thus generated can be characterised as a model and platform for other vaccines.

Since the pathogen’s sequence integrated in the vaccine vector can easily be exchanged, other pathogens can be targeted on the basis of this prototypic vector vaccine’s construction. Thereby, the development of a vaccine targeting emerging pathogens during the event of sudden outbreaks of epidemics such as the current Ebola epidemic should be accelerated.

A research team that includes researchers working with Dr Michael Mühlebach at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI), head of section “Product Testing of Immunological Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use” of the Division Veterinary Medicine and members of the research group “Oncolytic Measles Viruses and Vaccine Vectors” are currently working on such a vaccine platform.

As vaccine vector or vaccine platform, the scientists are using attenuated measles vaccine viruses. Into the genome of this platform those pathogen’s genes are integrated, which shall induce the desired immune responses. The project is part of the German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF) translational unit “Emerging Infections” and is operated in close collaboration with various research groups including that of Professor Stephan Becker, Institute for Virology of Marburg University, and other sections of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut.

After identifying the MERS-CoV as the causative agent of the mainly respiratory syndrome, which was first described in 2012 in human patients, the development of a vaccine against MERS was started on the basis of measles vaccine viruses in the PEI and the DZIF. For this purpose, the gene encoding the MERS-CoV envelope glycoprotein was inserted into the genome of a measles virus vaccine strain.

The recombinant measles virus-derived vaccine thus modified was characterised and its identity and stability were demonstrated. Using this vaccine, strong immune responses in mice (development of antibodies and T-cell response) were triggered, which protected the immunised animals during infection with MERS-CoV.

“Our data indicate that such recombinant measles viruses are suitable as a platform for developing vaccines against emerging pathogens”, explained Dr Mühlebach. The developed vector vaccine is a promising candidate for a clinical trial on the road towards developing a MERS vaccine.

Previously, members of the DZIF had already participated in the identification of the MERS coronavirus. “This successful research work shows the significance of such research collaborations, which benefit from the expertise of different groups that complement each other. As a result of such work, we hope that when emerging infectious diseases occur, methods for a rapid diagnosis of the disease will be made available ad hoc, thus leading to a quick development of vaccines that effectively combat this disease”, emphasises Professor Klaus Cichutek, president of the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut.

Background on MERS Coronavirus

In 2012, infections with MERS coronavirus (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) were diagnosed for the first time. In the meantime, more than 1000 infections were confirmed which had their origin in the Arabian Peninsula, above all, Saudi Arabia. Most recently, South Korea has been affected, where the outbreak has been brought under control in the meantime.

Most of the infections were probably transmitted by camels, but transmissions from human to human are also possible. In human patients, the virus causes severe infections with flu-like symptoms and frequently occurring pneumonia as well as breathing difficulties. Other symptoms include diarrhoea and severe courses of acute kidney failure. The disease takes a lethal course in around 30 percent of the cases. An authorised vaccine is so far not available. Currently, symptomatic treatment is the only option.

Original publication

Malczyk AH, Kupke A, Prüfer S, Scheuplein VA, Hutzler S, Kreuz D, Beissert T, Bauer S, Hubich-Rau S, Tondera C, Eldin HS, Schmidt J, Vergara-Alert J, Süzer Y, Seifried J, Hanschmann KM, Kalinke U, Herold S, Sahin U, Cichutek K, Waibler Z, Eickmann M, Becker S, Mühlebach MD (2015) A highly immunogenic and protective MERS-Coronavirus vaccine based on recombinant MV vaccine platform. J. Virol 2015 epub ahead of print 10.1128/JVI.01815-15

The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, the Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, in Langen near Frankfurt/Main is a senior federal authority reporting to the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG). It is responsible for the research, assessment, and marketing authorisation of biomedicines for human use and immunological veterinary medicinal products. Its remit also includes the authorisation of clinical trials and pharmacovigilance, i.e. recording and evaluation of potential adverse effects. Other duties of the institute include official batch control, scientific advice and inspections. In-house experimental research in the field of biomedicines and life science form an indispensable basis for the manifold tasks performed at the institute. The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, with its roughly 800 members of staff, also has advisory functions nationally (federal government, federal states (Länder)), and internationally (World Health Organisation, European Medicines Agency, European Commission, Council of Europe etc.).

Weitere Informationen:

Dr. Susanne Stöcker | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein
22.03.2018 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>