Development of Antiviral Tools to Control African Swine Fever Needed Before Outbreak Occurs

Farmscape for December 21, 2023

Full Interview 11:35 Listen

A scientist with the University of Saskatchewan suggests the tools to address an outbreak of African Swine Fever need to be in place before the infection makes its way to North America. The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan, with funding from Swine innovation Porc, is evaluating commercially available panels of antiviral compounds, for use in developing antiviral drugs to deal with African Swine Fever. Dr. Suresh Tikoo, a Professor and the Director of the Vaccinology and Immunotherapeutics Graduate Program, in the School of Public Health and a senior scientist with VIDO, says with African Swine Fever outbreaks already reported in countries in eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Germany, Belgium and Latin America (Haiti and Dominican republic)  it’s not a question of if but rather when the infection will enter North America.

Quote-Dr. Suresh Tikoo-University of Saskatchewan School of Public Health and VIDO:
Pork shipments generate about 30 million dollars in Canada and, once this disease comes into Canada, international market access is lost. In Canada alone, ASF may cause direct economic loss estimated at 24 billion dollars U.S.
The virus is not here in North America but, because of the economic considerations, there’s a big concern about the virus coming in and if it comes how to control the spread. With that in mind our long-term objective is to develop tactics which can control ASF infection as an alternative approach to vaccination because no vaccine is available. Although attempts are being made to make vaccine, no fruitful success has been achieved yet. We want to develop those antivirals so that at least we can reduce the susceptibility of the pigs and limit the transmission of the virus.

Dr. Tikoo says researchers  are doing high throughput screening of these antiviral compounds in vitro, in tissue culture cells in the CFIA approved level 3 lab at VIDO’s International Vaccine Center, VIDO in hopes of identifying a few anti ASFV compounds that merit testing in vivo, in live animals.

He expects to have results of the in vitro testing within four or five months.

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