Modified virus shows promise as an ASF vaccine


Researchers have found that deleting a gene of African swine fever virus (ASFV) reduces its ability to cause infection and protects against a strain of the virus that causes severe disease.

In the study, published in the Journal of Virology, scientists at The Pirbright Institute deleted an ASFV gene that codes for a protein (DP148R) thought to play a role in suppressing the pig immune system. The resulting modified virus was still able to replicate, but showed a dramatically reduced ability to cause infection; the pigs all survived and only displayed mild clinical signs. After being exposed to the modified strain, the pigs were protected against further infection from a natural strain of ASFV.

Dr Linda Dixon, leader of the ASF group at Pirbright, said: “Now that we have shown the modified virus has the ability to protect pigs against a natural strain, the next steps will be to make more gene deletions that will reduce the clinical signs exhibited by pigs after vaccination.

“We will also be investigating the precise role the protein plays during infection. This information will help us understand how it interacts with the host immune system and if the protein directly prevents immune processes or if it has other roles we haven’t yet identified. Knowing more about the gene and protein will make it easier for us to modify the virus further and create a vaccine that is effective and safe.”

ASF has no vaccine. The disease is currently spreading further across Europe, with outbreaks recently described in Romania for the first time. ASF can be very difficult to identify, as it displays similar clinical signs to other pig diseases, with the most harmful strains killing pigs before specific signs become apparent. In regions where infected wild boar are present, transmission of ASFV to domestic pigs complicates control of the disease.

Current prevention strategies focus around import controls and the education of farm owners on ASF and biosecurity to prevent infection and diagnose rapidly. However, these tools are currently not robust enough to stop the disease spreading across Eastern Europe and Russia.

The Pirbright research has shown that the modified virus could potentially be used as a component of a live attenuated vaccine. These vaccines have recently been reviewed in an article published in Vaccines by the European Union ASF Expert Working Group, which includes Dr. Linda Dixon.

The experts established that live attenuated vaccines are the most promising and best positioned candidates for use in the future against ASF. Although there are still important issues such as safety and effectiveness that need resolving before these vaccines are available commercially, Pirbright scientists anticipate further research on this candidate could lead to the development of an ASF vaccine.

Article: Deletion of the African swine fever virus gene DP148R does not reduce virus replication in culture but reduces virus virulence in pigs and induces high levels of protection against challenge by Ana L. Reis, Lynnette C. Goatley, Tamara Jabbar, Pedro J. Sanchez-Cordon, Christopher L. Netherton, Dave G. Chapman and Linda K. Dixon, published in Journal of Virology, online 4 October 2017, doi: 10.1128/JVI.01428-17

[SOURCE: The Pirbright Institute]

Veterinary experts meet to advance animal health and productivity for African farmers

Africa & the Middle EastGlobal

Veterinary experts meet to advance animal health and productivity for African farmers

 21 September 2017 – Animal health experts from Africa and the Middle East met in Abuja, Nigeria on 12-14th September to agree common research priorities for Africa and explore sharing of resources and facilities to maximise the impact of research in advancing the health and productivity of livestock.

 Sub-Saharan Africa is home to some of the largest livestock populations in the world and has the highest density of impoverished livestock farmers. It is estimated that more than 50% of the people in this region live on less than $1 a day, depend on livestock which provides approximately 45% of the total family income. Livestock are an essential asset to rural communities, and the health of livestock is critical to achieving food security in regions where there is exceptionally high incidence of livestock and human disease. At the same time, some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are also seeing increasing demand for quality livestock products from its growing population, which is becoming more urbanised and affluent. Research is needed to find solutions to the problems experienced by Africa’s livestock farmers, including production diseases and major infectious diseases. Infrastructure and networks are needed to bring the solutions to the field.

 This strategic veterinary research funders and programme-owners summit organised by STAR-IDAZ and CABI represents an excellent example of how together we could continue bringing innovative solutions to animal diseases and zoonoses in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Theo Kanellos, Director of Business Development and Alliances of Zoetis. “Forging effective public/private collaborations in Africa will significantly accelerate the advancement of health and productivity of livestock which are an essential asset to rural communities and critical to food security in areas with high animal and human disease incidence.” Zoetis is leading several such collaborations and initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 The meeting was followed by the Nigerian Animal Health Research Forum, 15th September. This brought together key persons from animal health research, the veterinary profession and industry in Nigeria to coordinate epidemiological surveys and veterinary laboratory activities for diagnosis and control of animal diseases, and increase collaboration between research, farming and industry. The meeting decided to form a Nigerian Animal Health Research Network chaired by Dr David Shamaki of the National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom. Dr Shamaki said “Coordination of research will make the best use of scarce resources and help develop solutions to problems in the livestock sector which is vital to the lives of many people in Nigeria and across Africa”.

 Dr Alex Morrow, Chair of the International Research Consortium said “These meetings, organised with the support of Zoetis, will help move forward coordination of the research effort to find innovative solutions to the many disease challenges of the livestock sectors, some of which are unique to Africa and the Middle-East. By working together we can speed up the development of new and improved disease control strategies which are essential to protect animal and human health

 STAR-IDAZ IRC (Global Strategic Alliances for Coordination of Research on Major Infectious Diseases of Animals and Zoonoses – International Research Consortium) is a global initiative that coordinates research programmes, at the international level, in animal health. It strengthens the links between and reduces the duplication of the global animal health research effort on high priority animal health issues, maximises the efficient use of expertise and resources, and accelerates coordinated development of control methods.


STAR-IDAZ IRC ( is supported by an EU funded project.

 National Veterinary Research Institute, Vom, Plateau State, Nigeria ( committed to research excellence and the production of standard quality vaccines for the livestock industry.

 Zoetis ( is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 60 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products, genetic tests, biodevices and a range of services.

 CABI ( is an international not-for-profit organisation that improves people’s lives by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. Our 48 member countries guide and influence our core areas of work, which include International Development and Publishing.

International Veterinary Vaccinology Network Meeting 2017

Africa & the Middle EastGlobal

The International Veterinary Vaccinology Network (IVVN) Meeting 2017 will take place at the Ole Sereni Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya on the 30-31 October 2017. The meeting aims to: bring together UK and low-and-middle income country partners to form collaborations; introduce other networks that IVVN members should be aware of and bring together academic with industrial and other non-academic partners. The meeting will be composed of 4 themes: Vaccines for Zoonotic Diseases, Veterinary Vaccine Production in Africa, Synthetic Biology in Vaccine Development and Livestock Vaccines Here & Now. The programme for the meeting is:

Welcome & Introduction Dr Vish Nene (ILRI) & Dr Bryan Charleston (The Pirbright Institute)
The International Veterinary Vaccinology Network Dr Tim Connelley (The Roslin Institute)

Theme 1: Vaccines for Zoonotic Diseases
Chair: Prof Fiona Tomley

Unravelling the pathogenesis of visceral leishmaniasis: a one-health, interdisciplinary research agendaProf Paul Kaye (The University of York)
Rift Valley Fever Dr George Warimwe (KEMRI – Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya)
Brucellosis and the BactiVac Network Dr John McGiven (Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA))
RSV Dr Patrick Munywoki (KEMRI – Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya)
Vaccine needs for zoonotic diseases in humans and animals Dr Baptiste Dungu (MCI Sante Animale)

Theme 2: Veterinary Vaccine Production in Africa
Chair: Prof Brian Perry

The current economic burdens of livestock infectious diseases in tropical regions/LMICs/Africa Prof Jonathon Rushton (University of Liverpool)
Veterinary vaccine production in Africa – capacity and limitations AU PANVAC
Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI) Dr Jane Wachira (KEVEVAPI)
Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) Dr Matlho (Botswana Vaccine Institute)

Day 2 – 31st October 2017

Theme 3: Synthetic Biology in Vaccine Development
Chair: Dr Pip Beard

Development of synthetic self-replicating mRNA platforms for vaccines and therapeutics
Dr Nathanial Wang (Synthetic Genomics Institute)
SpyTag – Vaccine Delivery
Prof Sumi Biswas (The Jenner Institute)
VLP for delivery of vaccines for East Coast Fever
Dr Anna Lacasta-Marin (ILRI)

Theme 4: Livestock Vaccines Here & Now
Chair: Prof Sandra Adams

The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) – facilitating capacity development Dr Tom Kariuki (AESA)
Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund
The efforts to eradicate peste des petits ruminants (PPR) Dr Bouna Diop (FAO)
Brucellosis Vaccine Prize Prof Brian Perry (Afrique One Aspire)
Livestock vaccination as a driver to achieve the Sustainability Development Goals Prof Guy Palmer (Washington State University)
Concluding comments Dr George Warimwe (KEMRI – Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya)

Veterinary vaccine nanotechnology: pulmonary and nasal delivery in livestock animals. (9/08/2017)


Nanoparticle (NP) technology has been shown to enhance immune activation by producing higher antibody titers and protection. Although specific mechanisms between NPs and biological membranes are still under investigation, physical parameters such as particle size and shape, as well as biological tissue distribution including mucociliary clearance influence the protection and delivery of antigens to the site of action and uptake by target cells. For respiratory delivery, various biomaterials such as mucoadhesive polymers, lipids, and polysaccharides have shown enhanced antibody production or protection in comparison to antigen alone. This review presents promising NPs administered via the nasal or pulmonary routes for veterinary applications specifically focusing on livestock animals including poultry.