Two collaborative research projects have been awarded BBSRC funding to provide novel solutions to combatting the foot-and-mouth disease virus and emerging poultry viruses.

Two new research projects have been awarded funding to tackle some of the world’s most devastating livestock and poultry viruses.

The two projects, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), aim to provide novel solutions to combatting the foot-and-mouth disease virus and emerging poultry viruses.

Electronmicrograph of FMDV.FOOT-AND-MOUTH
The first collaborative project – “The Molecular Biology of FMDV Replication: Towards New Methods of FMDV Disease Control” – has been awarded more than £5.6M to transform the way the disease is controlled in the future. The project will integrate the work of academics at the Pirbright Institute with those from the Universities of St Andrews, Leeds, Edinburgh and Dundee.

The researchers will investigate how the virus grows in, and interacts with, cells and harness the knowledge to develop a new generation of more effective vaccines and improve diagnosis.

The researchers will also attempt to use knowledge of how the virus grows in cells to make a new type of virus that could only grow in specially designed “helper” cells, meaning the virus couldn’t then grow in animals. This would make the use of existing conventional vaccines a much safer process.

Influenza virus researchEMERGING POULTRY VIRUSES
The BBSRC has also awarded more than £6.2M to develop rapid responses to emerging poultry viruses. This funding boost will also help to establish the next generation of poultry virologists, to work in a scientific area where the UK has traditionally been strong.

The “Developing Rapid Responses to Emerging Virus Infections of Poultry” project will:

  • enable the recognition of emerging viruses before widespread infections occur,
  • prepare for the possibility of new subtypes of avian influenza, and
  • help the process of developing better vaccines for poultry and humans.

The research will involve close collaboration between academics at Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge and St George’s, University of London – as well as experts from The Pirbright Institute and the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute.

This research will address important scientific challenges to allow better isolation and diagnosis of emerging viruses, as well as faster and better production of vaccines against them.

In addition to boosting knowledge, the funding will increase efforts in poultry virology in anticipation of new facilities at The Pirbright Institute and the multi-million pound National Avian Research Facility, which is a collaboration between The Roslin Institute and The Pirbright Institute.

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