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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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Kennel Club appoints new chief executive

News Story 1
 The Kennel Club has announced the appointment of Mark Beazley, who was previously Cats Protection's director of operations, as chief executive. Mark replaces Rosemary Smart, who stepped down from the role in April after 18 years.

Mark has held several senior strategic and executive roles, including executive director at Dogs Trust Ireland and chair of the Companion Animal Working Group at Eurogroup for Animals. He was also heavily involved in the establishment of the Eu Cat and Dog Alliance.

Mark will take up his new role in October. 

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International Cat Care appoints new head of veterinary division

International Cat Care (ICC) has announced the appointment of Nathalie Dowgray as head of the charity's veterinary division.

Nathalie, who is an RCVS advanced practitioner in feline medicine, will lead the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) and a play key role in advancing knowledge and research in feline medicine.

Claire Bessant, iCatCare's chief executive said: "We're absolutely delighted to be welcoming Nathalie to the charity. She brings a depth and breadth of feline expertise and understanding which fits perfectly with the charity's work and development, and her enthusiasm for cats is infectious."