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News Article

Novel equine influenza vaccine developed

An equine influenza virus live-attenuated vaccine has been generated using a reverse genetics approach

Researchers have developed a new live equine influenza vaccine that they say is safe and more protective than existing vaccines. They report their findings in the journal Virology.

The researchers, including Luis Martinez-Sobrido, associate professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and lead study author Laura Rodriguez, describe a new live-attenuated vaccine that’s given as a spray through the nose. Past research shows that live-attenuated vaccines provide better immune responses and longer periods of protection than vaccines that include inactivated or killed flu virus.

Created using reserve genetics, the new vaccine is designed to replicate and generate an immune response in the nose, where the flu first enters a horse’s body, but not in the lungs, where replication of the virus can cause disease. The goal is to stop the virus at entry, preventing it from taking hold in a horse’s respiratory tract.

A single spray of the vaccine protected mice and horses against the currently circulating H3N8 equine influenza virus. The vaccine was well tolerated and didn’t lead to any negative side effects. Vaccinated horses showed no signs of flu – such as nasal discharge, coughing and wheezing – when exposed to a natural equine influenza virus. Thomas Chambers in the Department of Veterinary Science, Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky oversaw the vaccination and care of the horses.

The study was small, only involving six horses, but planning for a larger study is underway. The use of reverse genetic approaches to create the live-attenuated equine vaccine confers an additional major advantage not available until now: the vaccine can be updated quickly and easily to protect against newly emerging equine influenza strains. Traditional equine vaccines, which are made in eggs, take months to produce and do not allow the flexibility to update against newly emerging viruses.

Read article: Development of a novel equine influenza virus live-attenuated vaccine by Laura Rodriguez, Stephanie Reedy, Aitor Nogales, Pablo R. Murcia, Thomas M. Chambers and Luis Martinez-Sobrido published in Virology (2018) volume 516, pp. 76-85, doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2018.01.005

Article details

  • Date
  • 02 May 2018
  • Source
  • University of Rochester
  • Subject(s)
  • Horses and other Equines