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The impact of our research

Our work has a huge impact both nationally and internationally as we fulfil our mission to be the world's leading innovative centre for preventing and controlling viral diseases of livestock. We play a crucial role in protecting UK livestock from viruses that have huge socio-economic impact with a unique combination of fundamental research and applied science in diagnostics and control.

Impact case studies

Potential treatments for mpox

Eight mpox cells under the microscope and coloured bright blueIn a collaborative effort, researchers from the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and The Pirbright Institute discovered how poxviruses, including mpox, evade human immune defenses. The research revealed that the mpox virus exploits a host protein, cyclophilin A, for its replication, presenting a promising opportunity for treatment using existing drugs.

Cyclophilin A is already a target for drugs used to treat certain viral infections and for immunosuppression. By repurposing non-immunosuppressive versions of these drugs, new treatments for mpox could be developed that:

  • Are less prone to viral resistance since they target a host protein rather than the virus itself.
  • Could be effective against multiple poxviruses using the same evasion strategy.
  • Can be rapidly produced and deployed as they have already undergone clinical trials.

With £2 million in funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Mpox Consortium was formed during the global mpox epidemic in 2022. This consortium has been instrumental in facilitating fast-paced, impactful research, leading to these crucial findings.

Tackling sheeppox and goatpox in Nigeria

Herd of goatsTogether with the Royal Veterinary College in London and National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Pirbright researchers have worked with scientists, farmers and policy makers in Nigeria to address the devastating impact of sheeppox and goatpox.

These highly contagious diseases severely affect animal health, causing up to 40% mortality, weight loss, and reduced wool and cashmere production. Given Nigeria’s large sheep and goat population, these diseases significantly threaten livelihoods.

Led by Dr Georgina Limon-Vega, the team identified key disease risk factors. They used this information to assess the effectiveness of control measures, finding that vaccination is economically viable for most scenarios. 

To aid farmers, they developed an online vaccine cost calculator, enabling them to evaluate the financial benefits of vaccinating their animals.

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