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Infectious disease

SARS-associated coronavirus

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Mouse studies suggest a mutant form of SARS-associated coronavirus could be used to vaccinate against the infection. In mice, infection with a mouse-adapted SARS-associated coronavirus carrying an inactivating mutation in an exonuclease generated viral titers in the lung without causing disease symptoms. In mice, vaccination with the mutant virus led to complete protection against infection with a virulent strain, whereas all saline-vaccinated mice died within three days of infection. Next steps could include testing the vaccine strategy in nonhuman primates.
At least four companies have SARS-associated coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics in preclinical testing.

SciBX 5(47); doi:10.1038/scibx.2012.1237
Published online Dec. 6, 2012

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Graham, R.L. et al. Nat. Med.; published online Nov. 11, 2012;
Contact: Ralph S. Baric, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, N.C.