New York Blood Center’s (NYBC) Laboratory of Viral Immunology at the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute has received a grant of over $400,000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue development of a vaccine against Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

According to the NIH’s National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases, 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.

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.