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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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New road sign to protect small wildlife

News Story 1
 Transport secretary Chris Grayling has unveiled a new road sign to help cut traffic accidents and protect small wildlife, particularly hedgehogs.

Local authorities and animal welfare groups are being asked to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign - which features a hedgehog - should be located.

Government figures show that more than 600 people were injured in road accidents involving animals in 2017, and four people were killed. These figures do not include accidents involving horses. The new sign will be used to warn motorists in areas where there are large concentrations of small wild animals, including squirrels, badgers, otters and hedgehogs.  

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NOAH members re-elect Jamie Brannan as chair

Jamie Brannan, senior Vice President of Zoetis, has been re-elected as chair of NOAH for 2019/20, during this year’s AGM, held in London.

Mr Brannan joined Zoetis and the NOAH board in 2016, becoming NOAH’s vice-chair in 2018 and replacing Gaynor Hillier as chair later that year.

He commented: “I am extremely pleased to have been elected by the NOAH membership and am proud to be able to represent our industry at such a critical time for the UK animal health industry. I look forward to driving forward our new NOAH Strategy and to working with our members, old and new, in the coming year.”