The Vaccine Group (“TVG” or the “Company”) today announces it is to collaborate with The Pirbright Institute (“Pirbright” or the “Institute”) to develop vaccine candidates to combat the porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome virus (“PRRSV”) in a project supported and funded by ECO Animal Health Group plc (“ECO”).
Under the terms of the agreement, ECO will fund the 18-month development project. This will see TVG use its novel vaccine technology as a platform for two prototype vaccines to tackle PRRSV.
Pirbright, a world leading centre of excellence in controlling viral diseases of livestock and viruses that spread from animal to humans, will supply the PRRSV genes and conduct the animal trials for the vaccines to test their effectiveness.
The vaccines will be created by inserting non-infectious conserved genes from PRRSV into a benign herpesvirus, which then stimulates the immune system when delivered into animals. Vaccines that use herpesviruses as their base have been shown to provoke particularly strong reactions from T cells, which are a vital part of the antiviral response.
Collectively, PRRSV-1 and -2 are responsible for one of the most economically damaging diseases to the global pig industry. They are estimated to cost European pig farmers about €1.5 billion a year and those in the US approximately $600 million.
Professor Simon Graham, Group Leader of PRRS Immunology at The Pirbright Institute said: “This is an exciting project that takes a novel approach to addressing the urgent requirement for improved vaccines to combat the global spread of PRRSV.”
Dr Hafid Benchaoui, Head, Global R&D, ECO Animal Health Group said: “ECO Animal Health recognizes the significant, ongoing challenge that PRRSV poses for our customers all over the world. This collaboration with The Pirbright Institute and The Vaccine Group leverages the deep scientific expertise of The Pirbright Institute and The Vaccine Group’s novel herpesvirus vector technology in an exciting new approach to PRRSV vaccination”
TVG Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Associate Professor Dr Michael Jarvis said: “This is an exciting opportunity that brings together critical basic science and translational expertise towards addressing this major infectious disease in pigs. As PRRSV is a member of the Nidovirus group of viruses, a group that also contains SARS-CoV-2, what we learn from development of a PRRSV vaccine may also help inform our development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. ”
Frontier IP Chief Commercialisation Officer Matthew White said: “This collaboration with The Pirbright Institute and ECO Animal Health provides a strong endorsement for the potential of The Vaccine Group’s novel vaccine platform technology. The company has made very good progress this year, and we are delighted it continues to go from strength to strength.”