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African Swine Fever vaccine breakthrough?

10th Oct 2017 / By Alistair Driver

It is very early days yet, but researchers in Australia and the US have made what they claim are the first steps towards developing a vaccine for African Swine Fever (ASF).

Scientists from CSIRO’s AAHL, Kansas State University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have uncovered genetic data they believe may contain the key to developing a vaccine.

They compared immune system responses, at the genetic level, in pigs infected with low versus high virulence strains of the ASF virus and were able to identify a set of common responses. The next step is to target these common genetic responses as the basis for vaccine development and diagnostic tests.

So far, attempts to develop a vaccine for ASF using conventional methods have failed but Dr David Williams, based at CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory said: “Our findings have extended our understanding of the virus-host relationship, an important element in developing new intervention strategies including new vaccine research to identify genes that stimulate protective immunity.

“Our genetic investigations shed light on how immune system genes of pigs respond to ASF virus infection and also, how they influence virus replication in the host.”

For more on this story, see Pig World. 

ASF has become the number one exotic disease concern for the UK pig industry in recent years as it has spread across Eastern Europe. The European Commission recently warned it poses a 'serious threat' to the EU pig industry.