The Pirbright Institute has been awarded over £1million by the BBSRC-Newton Fund to tackle four major viral diseases that threaten livestock populations across Asia.
Pirbright scientists will study two poultry and two pig diseases that have a severe impact on the wellbeing of animals and contribute to serious economic losses in many Asian countries. Their research will help understand several aspects of the diseases in addition to developing vaccines that will lead to new intervention strategies and aid global food security.
Researchers lead by Dr Elma Tchilian will be trialing new vaccines for the pig diseases caused by porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) virus and swine influenza A virus. By working with scientists in Thailand, the Pirbright team will help to implement a vaccine strategy in Thailand and Southeast Asia, which would benefit animal welfare, the livelihoods of smallholders and the competitiveness of the emerging pig industry.
The poultry diseases caused by avian leukosis virus and avian influenza viruses will be investigated by teams of scientists led by Dr Yongxiu Yao and Professor Munir Iqbal. Dr Yongxiu Yao’s team will build on links with Chinese institutes through Newton Funded UK-China Centre of Excellence for Research on Avian Diseases (UK-China CERAD) to share expertise and develop strategies for controlling avian leukosis virus.
Professor Munir Iqbal’s team will work to provide information about how the avian influenza viruses that plague the poultry production systems of China are able to evade current vaccines and what increases the risk of human transmission.
These three research projects will rely on huge collaborative networks and bolster Pirbright’s efforts to improve livestock welfare and economic production internationally, ultimately helping to ensure food security worldwide.