MERS-CoV Vaccine is Safe and Induces Strong Immunity in Army-Led, First-in-Human Trial

Jul 25, 2019 | Department of Defense, MERS, Vaccine, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research

MERS-CoV Vaccine is Safe and Induces Strong Immunity in Army-Led First-in-Human Trial

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS CoV) vaccine candidate was shown to be safe, well-tolerated, and induced a robust immune response in a Phase I frist-in-human clinical trial. Led by Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) Clinical Trial Center, they evaluated a candidate DNA vaccine (GLS-5300) co-developed by GeneOne Life Science Inc. and Inovio Pharmaceuticals.

The initial findings were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The Study

Conducted at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) Clinical Trials Center, they evaluated that the GLS-5300 MERS CoV vaccine was well tolerated with no major side effects reported by the volunteers. More than 85% of the volunteers exhibited a detectable immune response to MERS CoV after just two vaccinations. This immune response persisted throughout the study and was similar in magnitude to the response seen in survivors of natural MERS infection. Investigator Modjarrad noted “this study is, therefore, an important advancement for the U.S. Army, the military community as a whole and global stakeholders in the research and development of both MERS and corona virus countermeasures.”

What is MERS?

MERS is a severe respiratory disease akin to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. MERS CoV has infected more than 2,200 people and killed nearly 40% of those infected. There are currently no licensed vaccines or specific treatments for MERS. MERS has been identified as a priority disease by the World Health Organization (WHO) and as a top target for vaccine development by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).


The study was funded by the following sponsors:

  • U.S. Department of the Army
  • GeneOne Life Science, Inc.
  • Henry Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine
  • U.S. Department of Defense

Lead Research/Investigator

Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of WRAIR’s Emerging Infectious Disease Branch, Principal Investigator


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