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Novel technique may cut cost of bronchitis vaccine production
Infectious bronchitis remains a major problem in the global poultry industry. Because
Researchers grow IBV cell cultures in the laboratory

New research led by The Pirbright Institute could result in low-cost infectious bronchitis vaccine (IBV) production.

In a study published in the Journal of Virology, researchers describe how they genetically modified an IBV strain so that it could be grown in cell cultures in the laboratory, rather than inside hen eggs.

It is hoped the technique could lower the cost of vaccine production and make the process more efficient.

“To find the genetic code that made the lab strain able to replicate in cell cultures, we scanned the gene that produces the spike protein—the protein which enables the virus to attach to and enter cells—and found a genetic sequence which was unique to that virus,” explained Dr Bickerton, leader of the Coronaviruses group at Pirbright.  

“We were able to cut this sequence out of the lab strain and replace it in the vaccine strain to see if this allowed the vaccine strain to replicate in cell cultures too.”

Interestingly, the team discovered the sequence which allows lab growth of IBV strains results in the change of only three amino acids in the spike protein.

Dr Bickerton adds: “We can now apply this modification to other IBV vaccine strains, which will help improve the speed and efficiency of IBV studies and can eventually be applied to vaccine production”.

Despite there being an array of vaccines in existence, infectious bronchitis remains a major problem in the global poultry industry. Because the majority of IBV strains do not grow in cell cultures, IBV vaccines are grown in hen's eggs -  a process that is cumbersome and expensive.

Researchers estimate that a 10 per reduction in IBV incidence could save the global poultry industry £654 million. Boosting the efficiency and speed of IBV vaccine production is, therefore, crucial to reducing economic losses and welfare problems in chickens.

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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.”