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ASF proteins offer hope for vaccine
The rapid spread of ASF through Europe and China has decimated pig populations.

Scientists ID proteins that prompt immune response in pigs 

Pirbright scientists have identified African swine fever virus proteins that trigger an immune response in pigs, offering hope for a new vaccine.

Researchers screened proteins to find out which ones activated immune cells in pigs that had previously been infected with a weakened form of ASFV.

The 18 proteins that created the strongest immune cell response were transferred into viral vectors, which deliver the ASF proteins to pig cells without harming the animal.

Findings published in Frontiers in Immunology found that when some pigs were given a virulent strain of ASF, after receiving a vaccine that included the newly identified proteins, the level of ASF in the blood was reduced.

The rapid spread of ASF through Europe and China has decimated pig populations, resulting in the culling of more than 1.1 million pigs in China and nearly 2.5 million in Vietnam. Currently, culling, quarantine and strict biosecurity measures are the only defences farmers can use to prevent the virus spreading.

Various types of vaccine are being developed, but little is known about the virus and how the immune system responds to it.

Vaccines made with inactivated viruses have not offered protection to domestic pigs, and while live attenuated vaccines show promise, more testing is needed to ensure their safety. Pirbright researchers hope these vector vaccines offer an alternative option.

Dr Chris Netherton, head of Pirbright’s ASF Vaccinology Group said: “ASFV has more than 150 proteins; understanding which of these triggers an immune response is difficult but crucial for creating this kind of vaccine.

"Now we have identified proteins that activate pig immune cells, we can work on optimising the vaccine components to ensure pigs are protected against virulent ASF strains.”


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AWF Student Grant open for submissions

News Story 1
 Applications are open for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Student Grant Scheme for innovative research projects designed to impact animal welfare.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of veterinary science, veterinary nursing, agriculture studies and animal welfare are invited to submit their proposals to undertake research projects next year.

Grants are decided based on the project’s innovation, relevance to topical animal welfare issues and ability to contribute towards raising animal welfare standards. For more information visit  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
SPANA film highlights plight of working animals overseas

Animal welfare charity SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has teamed up with Brian Blessed and other famous voices to highlight the plight of working animals overseas.

In a new animated film, the celebrities raise awareness by showing the solidarity of the UK's own working animals on strike. A sniffer dog (Brian Blessed), police horse (Peter Egan) and sheepdog (Deborah Meaden) are shown ignoring their duties and protesting in solidarity with animals in developing countries.

SPANA chef executive Geoffrey Dennis said: "We are so grateful to Deborah, Peter and Brian for lending their voices to our new film, and for speaking up for millions of working animals overseas. SPANA believes that a life of work should not mean a life of suffering, and it is only thanks to people’s generosity and support that we can continue our vital work improving the lives of these animals."