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Sun 11 May 2014 11:25 AM

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US firm closer to MERS vaccine

Novavax Inc said its vaccine candidate blocked MERS infections in laboratory studies

US firm closer to MERS vaccine

US biotechnology firm Novavax Inc and University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers have reportedly created a vaccine against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), according to media reports.

Novavax said its vaccine candidate blocked MERS infections in laboratory studies, the Washington Business Journal reported.

It said it was based on a platform for a vaccine candidate that was said to protect against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which is also a coronavirus.

The findings were published in the medical journal 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,” said Gale Smith, vice president of vaccine development at Novavax, in a statement published in the WBJ.

“You’re blocking the attachment of the antibody to the human cell,” added Dr Gregory Glenn, the senior vice president of research and development at Novavax in comments reported by Saudi Gazette. “When you have an immune response to the virus, the virus is destroyed.”

Scientists around the world have been searching for the animal source, or reservoir, of MERS virus infections ever since the first human cases were confirmed in September 2012.

Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it had identified 32 new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), pushing the total number of infections in the country so far to 463.

Four people died of the disease on Wednesday and five on Thursday, taking the total death toll in Saudi Arabia to 126 since MERS, a form of coronavirus, was identified two years ago, the Health Ministry said in a statement on its website.

Last week it emerged an American healthcare worker was confirmed as the first case of MERS in the US after travelling to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and exhibiting symptoms upon his return to the United States.

He was being treated in Indiana and was in good condition and improving daily, the state health department said last week.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh has urged Filipinos traveling to their home country to undergo voluntary screening for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus before departing Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Gazette reported.

In a statement issued on Saturday, it said travellers should obtain a certificate from a medical facility that they are free from infection.

All international airports in the Philippines are currently enforcing strict screening procedures for MERS-CoV and other infectious diseases, the statement said.

The embassy also advised Filipino healthcare workers to strictly follow infection control protocols in their respective workplaces to prevent the spread of the virus.

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steven gomolka 5 years ago

Novavax has very experienced leadership team and scientists who are focused on pandemic vaccine development. Funded by several sources including Bill Gates Foundation (PATH) and US HHS (Health / Human Services), this company is doing very well developing a pipeline of vaccine candidates. Not only is their product thus far proven safe and effective, Novavax is an interesting investment for those looking for near term appreciation.

Midas360 5 years ago

It would be Saudi Arabia's best interest to invest in Novavax considering they are the only company in the world with an experimental vaccine. I would be invest $100+ million encouraging and helping them to develop it. All it takes is a major outbreak and then what do you do?

I recommend they call the company and speak to them ASAP.