Field testing underway on Canadian PED vaccine

(Peggy Greb photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Field testing is underway and a corporate partner on board for development of a made-in-Saskatchewan vaccine to protect pigs against porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED).

The University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) said Monday its prototype vaccine, first announced last year, has moved into field testing in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Manitoba saw three of its 10 on-farm PED outbreaks since 2014 on properties in its southeast in May and June, while Saskatchewan has yet to report any on-farm PED cases.

The PED virus (PEDv) is in the coronavirus group, which includes human diseases such as SARS and MERS, and produces mortality rates of up to 100 per cent in infected herds of piglets. Over eight million pigs in North America have died of PED since the disease appeared in the U.S. in 2013 and in Canada in 2014, VIDO said Monday.

The InterVac facility “provided us with the containment infrastructure to develop a vaccine and demonstrate it protected up to 100 per cent of the piglets,” VIDO research director Dr. Volker Gerdts said in Monday’s release.

“This is great news for the swine industry both in Canada and globally, as PEDV continues to threaten unaffected regions and impact areas where it is already present,” Sask Pork general manager Neil Ketilson said in the same release.

VIDO said its results have spurred interest from several animal health companies, among them Bulgarian human and veterinary pharma firm Huvepharma, which has now partnered with VIDO to develop the technology for commercial production in North America.

“Our goal is to have the vaccine available for commercial use as soon as possible to help stop producer losses,” Huvepharma’s senior scientist for biologics development, Dr. Boris Gavrilov, said in the same release.

VIDO-InterVac director Andrew Potter on Monday described the university facility as “one of the only facilities available internationally with the capacity to conduct vaccine development and testing on this scale for emerging infectious diseases.”

Potter last year said the VIDO PED vaccine under development is a prophylactic, aimed at preventing the disease altogether, unlike earlier vaccine products developed against PED in the U.S.

The VIDO vaccine is administered to sows, which would pass antibodies on to their offspring through milk and colostrum.

“The U.S. vaccines are available in Canada, but they’re only recommended for use in the case of an outbreak,” Potter told the Manitoba Co-operator at the time.

Ontario, which has seen the bulk of Canada’s on-farm PED cases — 99 since January 2014 — also hasn’t reported any new cases since the end of June. Quebec and Prince Edward Island have also confirmed on-farm cases, while British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan and the other Atlantic provinces have yet to report any outbreaks. — Network

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