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Researchers find pig gene needed for ASF virus
ASF is a fast-acting and severe virus which causes widespread illness and death.

The gene may lead to development of pigs resistant to infection.

Researchers have identified a gene in pigs’ DNA which is needed for African Swine Fever (ASF) to replicate.

The discovery of this gene, which is involved in the pig immune system, could lead to the development of pigs that are resistant to ASF.

ASF is a fast-acting and severe virus which causes widespread illness and death, and has caused high losses for the pork industry.

The infection has already killed more than 200 million pigs worldwide, and is currently a major issue across Asia. It has the potential to cause outbreaks in Europe and America.

There is currently no vaccine or treatment available.

The finding raises the potential of amending the gene, using gene editing, to develop ASF-resistant pigs.

The research was led by the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute in Germany alongside the Roslin Institute, which is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

The researchers examined a collection of pig cells, with each cell edited to lack a specific gene, to investigate how they responded to the ASF virus.

This analysis identified a suite of genes, known as the MHC-II complex, which produce proteins that are associated with the immune response to infections that were key to the virus.

This led them to a single protein in the MHC-II complex known as SLA-DM, which was essential to the replication of the virus in the cells.

The group hopes that editing this gene may allow for the development of pigs which are resistant to ASF, to mitigate the impact of the virus.

They believe that further research should aim to understand the biological processes in which SLA-DM proteins and virus particles interact.

Dr Finn Grey, of the Roslin Institute, said: “Our study identifies target genes for editing to develop pigs resistant to African Swine Fever.

“Although more work is required, this finding represents an important first step towards the generation of ASF-resistant pigs.”

The full study can be found in the Scientific Reports journal.

Image © Shutterstock

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Special imports digital service set to change

News Story 1
 From Monday, 15 July, Special Import Certificate (SIC) applications will only be accepted via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD's) new special imports digital service.

The original online special import scheme will be decommissioned. The VMD says that the new service is easier to use, more secure and reliable, and meets accessibility legislation.

The VMD is urging veterinary surgeons who have not yet signed up for the new service to do so before 15 July. The new digital service can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
RCVS course explains concerns process

A free, online course from the RCVS Academy has been launched, designed to clarify RCVS' concerns procedure.

The content will give veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses a better understanding of the process, and what they can expect if a concern is raised about them. It includes details of common concerns.

The interactive resource has been developed in collaboration with Clare Stringfellow, case manager in the RCVS Professional Conduct Team.

Ms Stringfellow said: "We appreciate that concerns can be very worrying, and we hope that, through this course, we can give vets and nurses a better understanding of the process and how to obtain additional support."

The course can be accessed via the RCVS Academy. Users are encouraged to record their learning for CPD.