In a recently published research paper, a team of USDA researchers at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center reported new-found optimism that the long road to an effective ASF vaccine is getting shorter.
Douglas Gladue (center front in photo), a senior USDA researcher, is among the group of researchers working on developing an ASF vaccine. He says this vaccine candidate was made by using a mutation of the wild 2007 ASF virus isolate from the Republic of Georgia, which is the origin of the current ASF outbreak in Asia and Europe. The breakthrough came when he and the other researchers deleted a single gene in the virus’ genome, known as I177L. By doing so, the live virus offers full protection against the current outbreak strain.
Gladue reported that pigs receiving the experimental vaccine remained clinically normal during a 28-day observation period. Also, infected animals had low levels of viremia titers, showed no virus shedding and developed a strong virus-specific antibody response. Most importantly, vaccinated animals were protected when challenged with the virulent parental strain of the Georgian virus, the only candidate to ever show this ability.
While admitting there’s still much work to do before government approvals and commercialization could happen, Gladue says the next step is to locate a commercial partner to do additional vaccine testing in larger sample sizes.