Background: The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 was caused by a previously unknown coronavirus-SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). We have developed an experimental SARS vaccine for direct immunisation of the respiratory tract, the major site of SARS- coronavirus transmission and disease.
Methods: We expressed the complete SARS coronavirus envelope spike (S) protein from a recombinant attenuated parainfluenza virus (BHPIV3) that is being developed as a live attenuated, intranasal paediatric vaccine against human parainfluenza virus type 3 (HPIV3). We immunised eight African green monkeys, four with a single dose of BHPIV3/ SARS-S and four with a control, BHPIV3/Ctrl, administered via the respiratory tract. A SARS-coronavirus challenge was given to all monkeys 28 days after immunisation.
Findings: Immunisation of animals with BHPIV3/SARS-S induced the production of SARS-coronavirus-neutralising serum antibodies, indicating that a systemic immune response resulted from mucosal immunisation. After challenge with SARS coronavirus, all monkeys in the control group shed SARS coronavirus, with shedding lasting 5-8 days. No viral shedding occurred in the group immunised with BHPIV3/SARS-S.
Interpretation: A vectored mucosal vaccine expressing the SARS-coronavirus S protein alone may be highly effective in a single-dose format for the prevention of SARS.