MERS-CoV spike protein: Targets for vaccines and therapeutics

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The disease outbreak caused by Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is still ongoing in the Middle East. Over 1700 people have been infected since it was first reported in September 2012. Despite great efforts, licensed vaccines or therapeutics against MERS-CoV remain unavailable. The MERS-CoV spike (S) protein is an important viral antigen known to mediate host-receptor binding and virus entry, as well as induce robust humoral and cell-mediated responses in humans during infection. In this review, we highlight the importance of the S protein in the MERS-CoV life cycle, summarize recent advances in the development of vaccines and therapeutics based on the S protein, and discuss strategies that can be explored to develop new medical countermeasures against MERS-CoV.

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