Work is underway at Kansas State University to develop a vaccine for African swine fever (ASF). This deadly virus of pigs only is causing devastating losses in the global pork industry and spreading throughout different regions of Europe and Asia.
K-State is doing the vaccine development work through a sponsored research agreement facilitated by K-State Innovation Partners and MEDIAN Diagnostics Inc., or MDx, a veterinary medicine company based in South Korea, according to a K-State release. K-State Innovation Partners facilitates technology commercialization for the university.
“The technology we are utilizing is based on a novel adenovirus backbone — developed from human adenovirus serotype 6 — that can amplify a transgene up to 10,000 copies in the infected cell without producing infectious viruses,” Waithaka Mwangi, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said in the release.
The technology of single-cycle adenovirus, or SCAd, allows a recombinant virus encoding a gene of interest to mediate protein expression in an infected cell in a similar manner as a replication competent virus but without producing infectious progeny — making it safe to use, Mwangi clarified. This platform was originally developed at the Mayo Clinic.
“We believe this will be a way to deliver a safe and effective vaccine,” Mwangi said in the release.
SCAd can safely induce more robust and persistent immune responses compared to live, inactivated and subunit vaccines that are more commonly used.
One of the biggest challenges of commercializing an ASF vaccine is safety.
“We should enhance the vaccine efficacy on the basis of guaranteed safety. We are convinced the SCAd technology is one of the most advanced and promising platforms to develop next-generation African swine fever vaccine candidates and Kansas State University is the best partner to cooperate with in the veterinary research and development area, so MDx made a decision to invest in this project,” JinSik Oh, CEO of MDx said in the release.
MDx said they expect the formulation and testing of the new ASF vaccine candidate to be completed through this research and development project, which is entering the first year of funding and will continue through 2023, the release said.
If ASF enters the U.S., where there are millions of feral pigs and ticks capable of transmitting the virus, it could cause billions of dollars in economic losses to swine and other related industries, the release said. For more information on the latest on ASF, watch the Farm Journal webinar, “Don’t Take Your Eyes Off of African Swine Fever.”