An NIAID team, lead by NIAID Vaccine Research Center Director Gary J. Nabel, M.D., used the available SARS coronavirus genomic information to develop a vaccine based on the gene for the SARS spike protein. The vaccine performed very well in mice, reducing the levels of virus in the lungs of infected mice by more than a million-fold, Dr. Nabel and colleagues reported in Nature in March 2004.
"Two years ago, we didn't know that this virus existed. Today, we begin clinical trials of a promising vaccine candidate. We owe the speed of this research to modern molecular genetics. The technology enables us rapidly to translate scientific discoveries into clinical interventions and improves our ability to battle these ever-evolving, highly lethal microbes," says Dr. Nabel.
Under a contract with NIAID, Vical Inc. of San Diego, CA, is producing the SARS vaccine for the NIAID clinical trial. For more information on the SARS vaccine trial, phone the Vaccine Research Center's toll free number 1-866 833-LIFE.
Chinese researchers began human testing of a SARS vaccine in May of this year. The Chinese vaccine trial uses an inactivated SARS virus vaccine developed through conventional vaccine technology.
While the bulk of SARS cases were in China, Hong Kong and Singapore, eventually cases also occurred in Canada, Europe and the United States, according to WHO. There were 27 probable SARS cases in the United States. No U.S. residents died of the disease, according to WHO.
Contact: Linda Joy
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases