November 15, 2022


USDA, Kansas State University get grant to create ASF vaccines



The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) recently awarded a US$500,000 Rapid Outcomes from Agriculture Research (ROAR) grant to the United States Department of Agriculture and US$150,000 to Kansas State University (US) to develop safe and rapidly deployable vaccines for African swine fever (ASF), to mitigate the spread and decrease fatalities in case of an outbreak.


National Pork Board and MEDIAN Diagnostics provided matching funds for US$1,000,000 and US$300,000 in total investments, respectively.


"We have seen the devastating effects of ASFV in other countries, and now is the time to invest in pioneering research that will hopefully spare US swine and pig producers should an outbreak occur in the United States," FFAR executive director Saharah Moon Chapotin said in a release.


FFAR said developing vaccines to protect swine from ASF will further protect pigs and producers across the pork supply chain in the US and global food security.


USDA researchers Douglas Gladue and Manuel Borca are leading a team to identify the viral proteins involved in immunity and infection to develop a vector-based subunit vaccine, a vaccine that includes a component of the virus to stimulate an immune response, FFAR said.


The research team is also pinpointing serological markers, which are antibodies that can distinguish between vaccinated and infected pigs using the modified-live vaccine candidate already developed by the USDA and is currently under production in Vietnam.


"We now have a commercially produced live-attenuated vaccine for ASF virus and funding from FFAR will allow us to identify the ASF virus proteins involved in immunity to this vaccine," Gladue said in a release. "Funding will also help USDA researchers to identify targets for potential viral vectored, subunit or mRNA vaccines, as the ASF virus proteins required for immunity are currently unknown."


Kansas State University scientists led by Waithaka Mwangi are using "a distinct but complementary approach" with an adenovirus vector vaccine, a tool used to deliver target antigens to the host, and a paper-based diagnostic test that distinguishes vaccinated from infected animals.


"We are grateful to FFAR for partnering with us to advance ASF virus subunit vaccine development efforts," Mwangi said in a release. "This is an important investment that will support a generation of new knowledge needed to develop a safe and effective counter-measure for the threat posed by the ASFV spread to the pork industry."


FFAR noted that both projects involve the development of appropriate diagnostic evaluations, an important complement to the vaccines.


"The development of a safe and effective ASFV vaccine is critical for managing the disease in endemic countries and preventing future outbreaks," FFAR added.


- Pork Business

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