Researchers make breakthrough with bluetongue vaccine

Researchers make breakthrough with bluetongue vaccine
5th Aug 2011


RESEARCHERS have taken a step towards producing better vaccines against bluetongue.

The findings could provide scientists with the tools to develop vaccines with useful new properties reports the FGI.


Professor Polly Roy of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the team, said: “We’ve developed the tools and provided the instruction manual for developing new, more effective bluetongue vaccines.
“This will not only be useful for combating bluetongue but will provide insights into fundamental virus assembly that will be useful for producing vaccines for other viruses.”
Better vaccines will be important to help combat the threat that bluetongue poses to livestock farming in the UK and abroad.
Bluetongue is a viral disease of cows and sheep which is transmitted by biting midges. Historically it has mainly affected African farms, but since 1998 the disease has been spreading across Europe.
In 2007 one strain of the disease reached as far as the east coast of the UK. The disease is economically devastating and kills up to 70 per cent of the sheep it infects.
The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
BBSRC chief executive, Prof Douglas Kell, added: “This is an exciting development and offers great potential for future vaccine development.

“Using the tools of synthetic biology, we are now able to assemble viruses piece by piece in a way that gives us far greater understanding of how they work. This approach could allow us to make safer and more effective vaccines against a range of viral diseases.”
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