A New York company has figured out how to give mice the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and also how to prevent the disease and effectively treat the infected mice.

Because the disease has only been recognized since 2012 and remains relatively rare, there has been little interest in developing a drug to treat the condition.

The company, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals of Tarrytown, New York, says its process of genetic engineering and antibody development shortens the usual drug development process, making it more economically viable. In infections where the body cannot produce its own antibodies fast enough, antibody-based treatments can rev up the immune system to target and neutralize dangerous pathogens.

The treatment still needs to be proved in humans, but the company says the approach has already worked in mice designed to get Ebola, and can be used treat other emerging viral diseases as well.