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DISSECT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 511060
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Spain

Outsmarting severe acute respiratory syndrome

Sino-European cooperation in finding vaccines for airborne illnesses and early diagnostic methods will help tackle one of this century's most intimidating diseases if or when it reappears.
Outsmarting severe acute respiratory syndrome
In 2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) hit Asia hard, affecting hospital workers in particular and compromising their ability to contain the epidemic. As another SARS outbreak could hit anytime and anywhere, it is important to develop vaccines, antiviral therapies and diagnostic tests before another epidemic. This was the objective the EU-funded project 'Development of intervention strategies against SARS in a European-Chinese taskforce' (Dissect).

The interdisciplinary project studied immunotherapy, vaccination and antiviral drugs to combat SARS, as well as new techniques to develop diagnostic kits that can catch the disease at an early stage. The tests would also be able to differentiate between vaccinated and naturally infected people.

Dissect investigated classical vaccines such as inactivated viruses, subunit vaccines and cutting-edge recombinant technology-derived vaccines, as well as therapeutic avenues such as specific antivirals and monoclonal antibodies. The testing involved collaboration between advanced European laboratories and experienced, high tech Chinese ones.

European expertise in coronavirus pathology, molecular biology and immunology complemented Chinese knowledge about SARS evolution, yielding admirable positive results in combating the disease. Together, the teams developed inactive vaccines, various antivirals, novel immune strategies and an attenuated live recombinant vaccine, as well as a microarray system to diagnose the illness. Thanks to these efforts, the next time the menacing SARS virus rears its head, health authorities will be more prepared.

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