The USDA researchers at the ARS agency laboratory of Plum Island are making encouraging progress in the fight against ASF and the development of the a vaccine.
African Swine Fever has been causing outbreaks in Asia and Europe. As a result of these outbreaks there’s been a shortage of worldwide available protein.
In the last year, the Plum Island Lab of the ARS at USDA has done significant progress.
ARS Lab has developed a new vaccine candidate, a fourth one, developed called i77l . It is urgent to have a vaccine to be able to try to prevent the spread of the disease, and entering the US, a large global pig meat producer that is safe from ASF for now (the whole American continent is ASF free).
The ARS USDA Lab received select agent exclusion for three vaccine candidates, and what that means is that the vaccines can be worked on ESL2 rather than SL3. This helps for commercialization of vaccines because it’s a lot cheaper to produce a vaccine in lower biosafety level labs.
Better diagnosis of ASF desease contamination
Additionally, the scientist at ARS also identified a cell line MA104, cells that are capable of detecting African Swine Fever for diagnostics. This is also important because before this discovery the only way to grow the vaccine was to use primary swine macrophages, you’d have to isolate swine macrophages from many different pigs in order to produce and commercialize the vaccine with a cell line now you can produce large quantities of the vaccine without the need of using donors fine
The role of the ARS from USDA in the quest for the ASF vaccine
The research of the ARS is focused on foreign animal diseases. Those are diseases that are not present in the US and that do not want to have in the US.
The role of ARS at USDA is to carry out research on vaccines, diagnostics to prevent and control those diseases in case they came to the US.
The ARS researchers recently developed a new vaccine against African Swine Fever by deleting a gene called I177L. Deletion of this gene is completely attenuated, in swine it’s able to be given at a low dose and there’s an effective vaccine. I177L is currently the only vaccine strain that has these features that protect against the current outbreak strain plaguing the world right now.
There has never been an outbreak ofAfrican swine fever in the United States and ARS wants to keep it that way. However, if it does get into the u.s. they want to have the right tools to control the disease, so USDA Area scientists have been working over the last decade to come up with an effective vaccine, that is why is necessary to genetically modify the virus.
Eliminating these particular genes of the virus that produce disease and then produced by that means an attenuated strain of virus, that is basically what ARS has been working on. The role of USDA in protecting US agriculture has huge implications not only to animals, but also to the well-being of people. The US right now has probably one of the lowest cost for food in the world and to keep it that way keeping these diseases away is mandatory.