Comparative efficacy of BAC-derived recombinant SB-1 vaccine and the parent wild type strain in preventing replication, shedding and disease induced by virulent Marek’s disease virus

A widely used vaccine against Marek's disease (MD) in poultry is the virus SB-1, which is antigenically-related to the causative agent, Marek's disease herpesvirus. We recently cloned the SB-1 genome as an infectious bacterial artificial chromosome, BAC, (pSB-1). The protective efficacies and replication kinetics of pSB-1 and the parent strain (SB-1) were compared in an experimental model of MD induced by a virulent strain, RB-1B. Although vaccine virus replication and shedding was lower for pSB-1 than for SB-1, both vaccines reduced replication and shedding of RB-1B, and were equally effective in protecting chickens against MD. With the cloning of pSB-1, we have now generated full length genomic clones of MD vaccine virus strains belonging to each of the three serotypes. Vaccine viruses derived from each of these clones demonstrated protective efficacies at levels similar to those produced by the respective parent viruses, demonstrating their suitability to be used as vaccine candidates.

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