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Enhance Measles Vaccine Candidate May Offer Coronavirus Protection

March 11, 2021 • 12:35 pm CST
(Precision Vaccinations)

A SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate developed by researchers from The Ohio State University (OSU) is leveraging a measles virus to potentially protect people from COVID-19.

By giving a protein’s gene a ride into the human body while encased in a measles vaccine, the experimental vaccine has shown to produce a strong immune response and prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection and lung disease in multiple animal studies.

Using a measles virus (rMeV) vaccine strain as the backbone, they developed a series of recombinant attenuated vaccine candidates expressing various forms of the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein and its receptor-binding domain and evaluated their efficacy animals.

They found that rMeV expressing stabilized prefusion S protein (rMeV-preS) was more potent in inducing SARS-CoV-2–specific neutralizing antibodies than rMeV expressing full-length S protein (rMeV-S).

These OSU researchers attribute the vaccine candidate’s effectiveness to the strategic production of the antigen to stimulate immunity. This is accomplished by using a specific snippet of the coronavirus spike protein gene and inserting it into a sweet spot in the measles vaccine genome to boost activation, or expression, of the gene that makes the protein.

The hope is that it can produce long-term protection against the SARS-CoV-2 beta coronavirus with the antigen inside.

“The measles vaccine has been used in children since the 1960s, and has a long history of safety for children and adults,” stated Jianrong Li, senior author of the study and a professor of virology in The OSU Department of Veterinary Biosciences, in a related press release published on March 9, 2021. “We also know the measles vaccine can produce long-term protection."

'Our results demonstrate rMeV-preS is a safe and highly efficacious bivalent vaccine candidate for SARS-CoV-2 and Measles' concluded this study.

The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR-II) vaccine is one of the most successful vaccines in human history. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, one dose of MMR vaccine is 93% effective against MeV.

Merck, the producer of the MMR-II vaccine, announced on January 25, 2021, 'the company is discontinuing development of its SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 vaccine candidates, V590 and V591.'

The Ohio State Innovation Foundation has exclusively licensed the technology to Biological E. Limited, a Hyderabad, India-based vaccine & pharmaceutical company.