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November 1, 2013

 

Vaccine against foot and mouth disease developed in Spain

 

 

A food-and-mouth disease vaccine, based on an innovative approach combining multiple copies of the structural components (called epitopes) of the viruses that generate protective immunity in a single molecular platform, has been developed in Spain and will be made available to the Chinese market.

 

It basically consists of peptides, and is produced by chemical synthesis, which gives it several advantages compared to conventional vaccines. Although vaccination is the best preventive strategy against foot and mouth disease (FMD) and most infectious diseases, the conventional vaccines based on attenuated or inactivated viruses have many disadvantages. This is the reason for the interest in what are known as subunit vaccines, which include those based on peptides, such as the one described here.

 

The vaccine is the fruit of a collaborative project between the Universidad Pompeu Fabra (UPF), the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the Spanish National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA) and Genome España (or Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology - FECYT). The vaccine was designed and produced on a pilot scale in the protein chemistry laboratory at UPF.

 

Pompeu Fabra University, represented by Francesc Posas, the Vice-rector for Science Policy, signed an exclusivity agreement on October 7 with Virbac, a French multinational company that is a leader in the animal health sector, to market a technology developed in the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (CEXS). The FMD vaccine is a veterinary vaccine for the prevention of FMD, the most economically devastating animal disease worldwide.

 

The exclusivity agreement with Virbac includes the production, evaluation and eventual marketing of the vaccine in the People's Republic of China, where the market for these vaccines amounts to more than US$200 million a year for the pig sector alone.

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