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Swine flu development could advance human treatments
The pig antibodies could enable a greater understanding of how flu viruses evolve.
Pirbright scientists develop first pig antibodies against swine influenza.

Scientists at The Pirbright Institute have generated the first pig antibodies against swine influenza (flu) that protect against reinfection and recognise the same parts of the flu virus as human antibodies.

Their findings, published in PLOS Pathogens, suggest they could be used to develop and assess human antibody therapies and their delivery methods. The pig antibodies could also enable a greater understanding of how flu viruses evolve and inform decisions about annual flu vaccine selection. 

In the study, Pirbright worked with the University of Oxford, The Francis Crick Institute and The Pirbright Livestock Antibody Hub to generate the first pig antibodies in the laboratory (called monoclonal antibodies or mAbs) that target the influenza virus.

The mAbs recognise the same two main sites of the flu virus haemagglutinin protein targeted by human antibodies, and were found to be just as effective at neutralising the swine flu strain that caused the 2009 pandemic.

The findings show that pig mAbs are more closely matched to human antibodies and could, therefore, improve the reliability of human vaccine selection. 

Dr Elma Tchilian, mucosal immunology group leader at Pirbright, said: “This demonstrates that pigs and humans, which are both natural hosts for influenza viruses, generate very similar immune responses.” 

Professor John Hammond, leader of The Pirbright Livestock Antibody Hub, added: “These results are a fantastic demonstration of how The Pirbright Livestock Antibody Hub can promote the use of new tools and methods, providing the opportunity to examine detailed antibody responses to inform the next generation of vaccines and therapies. This work reinforces the use of pigs as powerful model to predict human responses in infection and vaccination.”

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Vets asked to opt-in to Scottish SPCA fostering programme

News Story 1
 The Scottish SPCA is encouraging veterinary practices to opt into its new fostering programme, by agreeing to register foster animals when approached by one of the foster carers.

The programme goes live in August 2021, and will help to rehabilitate animals under the Scottish SPCA's care until they are able to be properly re-homed. The programme will help the animals to receive care and attention in a stable and happy home environment, as some animals do not cope with a rescue and re-homing centre environment as well as others.

Specific information for veterinary practices on the new programme can be found at 

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News Shorts
Webinar provides insight into old age pets

A new webinar providing insights into the BSAVA PetSavers Old Age Pets citizen science project is now available free of charge to its members via the BSAVA Library

The webinar presents an exclusive insight into the research process and progression of the study, which aims to help veterinary professionals and owners provide the best care for their senior dogs.

It also discusses the study's research methods, the researchers' personal interests in this area of study, and how they envisage the findings being used to create a guidance tool to improve discussions between vets and owners about their ageing dogs.