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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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Big Butterfly Count returns

News Story 1
 The world's biggest survey of butterflies is back for 2020!

Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count launches on Friday, 17 July and will run until Sunday 9 August. Members of the public can get involved by downloading the Big Butterfly Count App or recording results on a downloadable sheet available from bigbutterflycount.org/.

'It's a fantastic activity for people from three to 103 years and we'd encourage everyone to take 15 minutes in an appropriate outdoor space during sunny conditions to simply appreciate the nature around them and do their bit to help us understand butterfly populations,' said a Butterfly Conservation spokesperson. 

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New appointment at Dechra

Dechra Veterinary Products Ltd (Dechra) has announced a key appointment to support veterinary professionals across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Karen Hockley has been appointed as a telesales account manager and will provide the latest products, news and developments from Dechra. She joins the company from a large mixed practice in Northern Ireland where she was the branch manager.

Before that, Karen had worked for a multinational veterinary pharmaceutical company as a key account manager for Northern Ireland. She can be contacted at karen.hockley@dechra.com or 087 219 54 30.