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PRRS Vaccine Could Save US$664 Million Per Year

10 January 2014

New technology involving an inactivated virus and nanotechnology could help farmers better control the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory System (PRRS) virus.

An researcher from the Ohio Research and Development Center (OARDC)  has created a unique vaccine to protect swine from PRRS, a viral disease that causes direct losses to US swine producers to the tune of $664 million a year, writes Mauricio Espinoza in Continuum from Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Renukaradhya Gourapura
His PRRS vaccine is the first for food-producing animals to be enclosed in PLGA, a polymer that protects the vaccine and improves its absorption by the immune system.

Unlike the current live vaccines used to prevent PRRS, the new vaccine uses an inactivated virus to eliminate adverse reactions in pigs such as abortion, sick piglets and further spread of the disease, said Renukaradhya Gourapura, an associate professor in the Food Animal Health Research programme.

The vaccine is also enclosed in biodegradable nanoparticles, which improves its efficacy and its absorption by a pig’s immune system.

“Our tests have shown that two doses of this vaccine, administered intranasally along with a potent mucosal adjuvant, achieve 100 per cent protection in pigs against genetically variant PRRS virus,” said Dr Gourapura, who started working on this project in 2009.

In Ohio, which ranks ninth in the United States in overall pork production, according to the National Pork Board, outbreaks of PRRS have been more common since 2010. Even among vaccinated sow herds in the state, the virus can cause 10 to 20 per cent mortality, a significant economic loss for an industry worth $681.5 million in production value alone and that supports 10,000 jobs.

Dr Gourapura said the vaccine has been successfully tested in a small number of animals at Ohio State University.

The next step involves extensive field trials in hundreds of pigs in commercial herds.

“The vaccine appears to be commercially feasible,” he said. “Once it is produced in large quantities, its cost should be similar or just a little more than that of currently available vaccines for PRRS.”

This research project has been supported by several grants from the National Pork Board, the US Department of Agriculture’s PRRS CAP2 project and OARDC, totalling over $500,000.

Further Reading

Find out more information on PRRS by clicking here.

January 2014

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