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Pirbright research to make vaccines more accessible
Pirbright research could boost vaccine yields by up to tenfold. 
Scientists to use gene-editing technology to remove major barrier to viral replication

Livestock vaccines may soon be more accessible and affordable thanks to funding from the Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund.

The funding has been awarded to the Pirbright Research Institute to allow previous immune response research to continue. The research will involve using gene-editing technology to remove chiFITM proteins in chicken cells - one of the major barriers to viral replication - and could boost vaccine yields by up to tenfold.

Dr Mark Fife from Pirbright's Genetics and Genomics Group, which is leading the research, explains: “Many vaccines for both animal and human, are produced by going a weakened form of the virus in chicken eggs or cells, which are then extracted for use.

“Although chiFITM may help protect chickens from viral infection, the protein actually hinders vaccine productions, as it prevents the weakened virus from replicating at high levels and reduces the amount of vaccine that can be made.

"Our new research will involve using a gene-editing system called CRISPR/Cas9 to remove the chIFITM genes in chicken cells, therefore overcoming one of the barriers for viral replication, and boosting the levels of vaccine virus produced.”

This boost to vaccine production will make vaccines cheaper to produce and more accessible to livestock owners in developing nations. The scientists will first focus on increasing flu vaccine yields, but the method could also be applied to multiple livestock diseases and potentially human diseases too.

When the researchers have piloted the technique, they will work with commercial partners Horizon Discovery Group plc to bring this new technology to market. It is hoped the technology will commercially available as soon as 2021. 

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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”