- Peste des petits ruminants virus causes severe disease in small ruminants such as goats and sheep, especially in Africa, Asia and the Middle East
- There is a global eradication programme aimed at eradicating the disease by 2030, however this cannot be achieved in time without a suitable vaccine that could differentiate between vaccinated and infected animals
- These new vaccine candidates and accompanying serological tests can distinguish between animals that have immunity from vaccination and those that have immunity from natural infection, which is required if this virus is to be wiped out.
Researchers at The Pirbright Institute have developed two new vaccine candidates that could differentiate between vaccinated and infected animals and contribute to the ongoing global eradication of peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV).
Following the successful eradication of rinderpest in 2011 (the only virus apart from smallpox to be eliminated), PPRV is the target of an international campaign which aims to eradicate the disease by 2030. To achieve this aim a global effort is focused on developing a vaccine that can allow farmers to differentiate between those animals that have acquired immunity through vaccination, and those that have acquired immunity through natural infection. Until now this type of vaccine, known as a DIVA vaccine (differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals), did not exist, hindering the progress of the global eradication programme.
Pirbright scientists explored ways to create live attenuated DIVA vaccines using reverse genetics which provides a way to manipulate the RNA virus genome through DNA copies (cDNA). Using these techniques researchers have taken current vaccine strains of PPRV and replaced the variable part of the N gene (a gene that codes for nucleoproteins which play a role in the host’s immune response), with that from a related virus, dolphin morbillivirus (DMV). These modified vaccine strains of PPRV were then assessed for their growth characteristics in vitro and their responses in vivo and were found to behave similarly to the parent strains. They also offered protection against disease for vaccinated goats. In addition, ELISAs were successfully designed to differentiate antibodies in the blood of infected and vaccinated animals, thus demonstrating the creation of DIVA vaccines.
Prof Satya Parida who led the research and was head of the Vaccine Differentiation Group while at Pirbright, now working at Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations (FAO) as Laboratory and Vaccine Specialist said “This is a key breakthrough in the global eradication of PPRV as a DIVA vaccine was the next piece of the puzzle. It allows for surveillance of animals to determine disease spread and monitor outbreaks, while also protecting animals and preventing virus shedding. We also showed that these novel vaccines can protect against any of the four lineages of PPRV. The next step is to test the efficacy of these DIVA vaccines on a larger number of animals to further establish the safety and potency before they are used in the field.”
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Notes to Editors
The paper ‘Exchange of C-Terminal Variable Sequences within Morbillivirus Nucleocapsid Protein Are Tolerated: Development and Evaluation of Two Marker (DIVA) Vaccines (Sungri/96 DIVA, Nigeria/75/1 DIVA) against PPR’ will be available in Viruses with the link: https://doi.org/10.3390/v13112320
This research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
About The Pirbright Institute
The Pirbright Institute is a world leading centre of excellence in research and surveillance of virus diseases of farm animals and viruses that spread from animals to humans. Based in the UK and receiving strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Institute works to enhance capability to contain, control and eliminate these economically and medically important diseases through highly innovative fundamental and applied bioscience.
The Institute is an independent company, limited by guarantee and a registered charity, governed by a Board of non-executive Trustee Directors.
With an annual income of £37 million from grants and commercial activity, and a total of £43.7 million strategic investment from BBSRC UKRI during 2021-2022, the Institute contributes to global food security and health, improving quality of life for animals and people.
For more information about The Pirbright Institute see: www.pirbright.ac.uk
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