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Researchers set to develop African Swine Fever antivirals
"Having a tool which could lower the risk of further transmission once pigs have been infected would go a long way in preventing the rapid spread of this disease" - Dr Linda Dixon.
Study will help scientists understand how the virus infects pigs

The first antiviral drugs that are effective against African Swine Fever (ASF) are set to be developed by researchers at The Pirbright Institute.

It is hoped that in the absence of a vaccine, antiviral drugs could offer an alternative method of control that would help limit clinical signs in pigs and reduce virus replication. In turn, this would minimise disease spread and help to contain outbreaks, ultimately reducing the number of pigs lost to this fatal infection.

Working with Belgian biotechnology firm ViroVet, the researchers will test antiviral drugs that have already been screened in the laboratory and shown to reduce viral replication in the absence of cellular toxicity. Up to now, the antivirals have shown a minimum of 90 per cent reduction in viral replication. The candidates that are most successful will undergo further testing at Pirbright’s high containment facilities.

Dr Linda Dixon, head of the African Swine Fever group at Pirbright, said: “The unique experience of ViroVet makes them the ideal company to partner with on this project. The results from this study will help us understand more about how the virus infects pigs and will help to inform our vaccine development research.

“Without a viable vaccine, ASF is incredibly difficult to control owing to its ability to be spread by wild boar and through the consumption of contaminated pork and other products by pigs. Having a tool which could lower the risk of further transmission once pigs have been infected would go a long way in preventing the rapid spread of this disease.”
 
Dr Nesya Goris, chief development officer and co-founder of ViroVet added: “This joint research will help us select a potent antiviral drug that could stop transmission of ASF from infected animals and prevent spread to healthy pigs.

“We are extremely proud and honoured to partner with the expert scientists of The Pirbright Institute. The study will help advance the new concept of ASF containment using antiviral drugs.”

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Pair of endangered Amur leopard cubs born at Colchester Zoo

News Story 1
 Keepers at Colchester Zoo are hailing the arrival of a pair of critically endangered Amur leopard cubs.

The cubs were born to first-time parents Esra and Crispin on the 9 September. This is the first time the Zoo has bred Amur leopard cubs on-site.

Amur leopards originate from the Russian Far East and north-east China. In the wild they are threatened by climate change, habitat loss, deforestation and the illegal wildlife trade.

The cubs are said to be “looking well” and are expected to emerge from their den in a few weeks.  

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News Shorts
BEVA survey seeks views about antibiotic use in horses

Equine vets are being invited to participate in a BEVA survey that aims to find out more about antimicrobial resistance in equine veterinary practice.

Designed by researchers at the University of Liverpool and incoming BEVA president Tim Mair, the survey aims to fill gaps in knowledge about how antimicrobials are being used in equine practice and the landscape of resistant infections encountered in equine practice.

Researchers hope the results will lead to a greater understanding of the role of antimicrobial treatment and antimicrobial resistance in horses and protect antibiotics for the future of equine and human health.