Researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University compared samples of the cornavirus in humans and camels. They matched. Nonetheless, new studies show that the human immune system may have the power to fend off this virus.

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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) – While evidence has linked the MERS virus to camels, researchers are finding new ways to combat this virus.

Researchers from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University compared samples of the cornavirus in humans and camels. They report finding a match. Nonetheless, new studies show that the human immune system may have the power to fend off this virus.

A study published in the Science Translational Medicine journal, reveals a Chinese-led team discovered two new antibodies that may combat emerging MERS-CoV outbreaks.

The team writes, "While early, the results hint that these antibodies, especially when used in combination, could be promising candidates for interventions against MERS-CoV infection."

However, more animal testing is needed and developing animal models have been a challenge for these researchers.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was first reported in 2012 in the Middle East and North Africa. Symptoms range from severe and fatal acute respiratory illness. Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School, says the entire bio-medical research community needs to address this virus because of its potential threat to global health.

According to the Mailman School of Public Health, at least 300 people have been infected with the virus and approximately 100 have died since the first documented case.

"Although there is no evidence that MERS-CoV is becoming more transmissible, the recent increase in reported cases is a cause for concern," Dr. Lipkin said.

With the mortality rate around 40 percent and the clusters of human to human transmission, a pandemic is a growing concern.

Written by: Brittany Linton, WUSA9

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