Days after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a new foot-and-mouth disease vaccine that lacks live foot-and-mouth virus — the first of its kind — has gotten license from the federal government to be manufactured and used on animals on the U.S. mainland, 'CBS Sunday Morning' featured a lengthy segment about the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center this past Sunday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Plant and Health Inspection Service’s Center for Veterinary Biologists granted a conditional license last week to the molecular-based vaccine, which was developed at the and at Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Dicectorate, for use in cattle.
Foot-and-mouth disease is a virus that's highly contagious among livestock but relatively harmless to humans.The new vaccine is the result of a seven-year collaboration with industry partners GenVec Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in Gaithersburg, Md., and Antelope Valley Biologics, a Benchmark Biolabs affiliate based in Lincoln, Neb.
“This vaccine represents one of the most significant developments in foot-and-mouth disease vaccines in the last 50 years,” said Dr. Luis Rodriguez, research leader at Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center. “The new molecular vaccine provides important options to foot-and-mouth disease control in the U.S., including less dependence on foreign sources for vaccine manufacturing and a wider range of tests that can readily distinguish vaccinated animals from those that have been infected with the disease.”
The new vaccine — which contains only virus coat particles, called empty viral capsids, which lack the infectious viral nucleic acids — does not require expensive, high-containment facilities because it does not use the infectious materials of the live foot-and-mouth virus.
“The absence of specific viral components provides multiple opportunities to develop better diagnostic tests that differentiate between vaccinated and infected animals,” said vaccine researcher Dr. Marvin Grubman of the USDA Agricultural Research Service at Plum Island. “Having this capability is critical to demonstrating freedom of infection and return to trade after a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.”
While this vaccine protects against one strain of foot-and-mouth, there are seven major serotypes and many sub-types of the disease. Vaccines for other strains of foot-and-mouth and other transboundary animal diseases of livestock are currently being developed on Plum Island using this and other molecular technologies.
“Development of this vaccine technology took several years, and everyone at Plum Island Animal Disease Center is proud to see result of the hard work that began with the initial discovery by Agricultural Research Service scientists followed later by the Department of Homeland Security scientists taking it through the licensing process,” said Dr. Larry Barrett, director of the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center.
“Effective foot-and-mouth vaccines can help alleviate the burden that these diseases pose to animal health and human wellbeing particularly in parts of the world facing food insecurity and population increases over the next decades,” Rodriguez added.
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