Coronaviruses – animal model and vaccine development
Coronaviruses are a diverse group of viruses that include Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV). It is likely that many of these viruses originate in bats, and through intermediate hosts, cross the species barrier to cause disease in humans, livestock and domestic animals.
There is no effective vaccines for MERS-CoV. And current coronavirus vaccines, where available, offer limited protection against divergent viruses. For MERS-CoV, which is maintained in camels, we have developed an alpaca model. This model will allow different vaccine strategies to be assessed for protection.
A larger goal is the development of a pan-coronavirus vaccines that could provide protection against multiple strains or cluster of viruses. Using structural biology and protein engineering we propose to develop vaccines that enhance cross-protection against different coronaviruses.