SARS vaccine two to three years away

11th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

11 May 2004 , LUEBECK - A vaccine to prevent SARS could be just two to three years away, scientists said at a conference in Germany to compare notes on the fight against a disease which has killed 800 people so far, mainly in Asia. But a specific medicine to cure severe acute respiratory syndrome after a victim has fallen sick remains uncertain, most agreed at the gathering which began Sunday in the port city of Luebeck. British scientists described early successes in developing a vaccine using genetically

11 May 2004

LUEBECK - A vaccine to prevent SARS could be just two to three years away, scientists said at a conference in Germany to compare notes on the fight against a disease which has killed 800 people so far, mainly in Asia.

But a specific medicine to cure severe acute respiratory syndrome after a victim has fallen sick remains uncertain, most agreed at the gathering which began Sunday in the port city of Luebeck.

British scientists described early successes in developing a vaccine using genetically modified virus-like substances.

"I would expect a vaccine in two to three years, assuming there are further SARS outbreaks that keep up the pressure for a solution," said Hans-Dieter Klenk, president of the German Virology Society.

The meeting, attended by 300 experts from China, the United States, Canada, Europe and other regions, was the first comprehensive world meeting on the disease, which has so far been caught by 8,000 people. With a 10 percent fatality rate, it has often caused panic.

Rolf Hilgenfeld, the conference president, said at a briefing that research into a cure was focussed on substances like interferon.

"The research is currently concentrated on the question whether medicines that are already on the market are any good against SARS," said Hilgenfeld, who is director of the Luebeck University's institute of biochemistry.

Laboratory tests had suggested interferon, best known as an anti-cancer drug, could be effective.

Scientists remained puzzled about where the corona virus that causes SARS mutated, saying it was apparently not in the palm civet (scientific name Paguma larvata), a member of the cat family.

Hilgenfeld said the palm civet, the meat of which is sold in southern China, appeared to have only been been a conduit of the disease but not the source, since Chinese biologists had established that palm civets themselves fell sick with SARS.



DPA

Subject: German news

 

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