Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is one of the most important pathogens in cloven-hoofed animals in the world. Vaccination is an important tool for control of FMD, but the available vaccines afford only short-term protection and some animals become persistently infected. The mechanisms that underlie the quality of the immune response and viral persistence are not well known. This project contributes to the development of improved vaccines and new control measures.
Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is the etiologic agent of one of the most devastating diseases that can affect cloven-hoofed livestock. Current available vaccines are efficacious as emergency vaccines since they induce an early antibody-mediated protection against FMDV-infection but the duration of immunity is often reduced. This significantly enhances the costs and reduces the efficacy of vaccination programs in endemic areas, which are the source of virus regularly re-introduced into Europe. Moreover, following acute infection of cattle with FMDV, some animals become persistently infected regardless of their immune (vaccinated) status. The mechanisms that underlie the induction of humoral and cellular immunity (including the quality of the immune response at the individual level) and viral persistence are still unknown.
The aim of this project is:
- to identify innate immune gene signatures that are associated with long term antibody responses in sheep to define molecular targets for the development of new adjuvants and vaccines;
- to identify factors within pathogen and host gene signatures associated with FMDV infection and persistence that can be targeted to prevent persistent infection with FMDV;
- to develop novel viral vectored vaccines that could enhance the adaptive and local immune response against FMDV.
This collaborative project brings together five public research groups from four EU countries, which are leaders in the field of large animal immunology and FMDV research, and one private international company leader in vaccine development and production. It will contribute to the development of improved vaccines to promote animal health, welfare and food security globally. The knowledge generated in this project will have broad applicability for the design of new control measures.