Monday, February 4, 2008

Researchers from the UPF develop a vaccine against foot and mouth disease

(an article from the PRBB newspaper, El·lipse)

The proteomics and protein chemistry group at CEXS-UPF, directed by David Andreu (in the picture), together with collaborators of the CSIC and the INIA, has developed a vaccine against foot and mouth disease. In pilot assays in pigs, the vaccine has given 100% protection against the infection.

Conventional vaccines, based on inactivated viruses, have disadvantages such as the need for a cold chain and the inherent risk to any infectious agent. In contrast, “new vaccines do not use the whole virus, but viral subunits” – says Andreu. “Our vaccine, for example, combines peptides that reproduce different antigenic regions of the virus”. By avoiding the infectious agent, the vaccine is completely secure and allows for an easy serological distinction between a vaccinated animal and a diseased one, says Andreu.

Foot and mouth disease is the animal disease with a higher economic incidence worldwide. For example, to eradicate the 2001 outbreak in the UK, 8 million cows and pigs were sacrificed, with a cost of more than 10,000 million euros. The consortium UPF-CSIC-INIA has requested the international patent for the vaccine, and will start the clinical assays in 2008, with the funding of Genoma España. Ironically, the no-vaccination policy of the EU implies that, so far, the vaccine won’t have a market in Europe. But it will have one in Latin America, where the clinical assays will take place, and in Asia and Africa.

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