China, US develop new MERS treatment

Updated: 2015-06-15 20:29


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China, US develop new MERS treatment

Passengers wear masks to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, June 14, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

SHANGHAI - Chinese and American scientists have jointly developed a new antibody targeting the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which has killed 16 people and landed 150 others in hospital in South Korea.

Fudan University, which worked with US National Institutes of Health to develop the antibody, said on Monday that tests on animals had seen "very effective" results.

Jiang Shibo, who led the research team at Fudan, said the m336 antibody could neutralize MERS virus more effectively than other antibodies.

The m336 antibody treatment has proved more effective when coupled with a specific type of polypeptide, according to Jiang.

He also added the polypeptide could be used as a nasal spray as a preventive measure theoretically for high-risk groups such as medical staff.

Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert, called for an immediate clinical trial. He thinks the certain progress in the development of the antibody for MERS cannot be seen if it doesn't go to clinical phase due to safety concerns.

The four phases are needed before new medicine goes to the market – laboratory tests, animal testing, trials on humans and approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

A Korean official said over 100,000 people have canceled their trips to the country this month due to the deadly MERS disease.

About 1.18 million travelers visit South Korea every month last year. The foreign currency earnings may decline by $2.3 billion if the number of travelers goes down 50 percent, he said.