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Vaccines and Correlates of Protection

Vaccine, Diagnostic Test Development and Immunology Aspects of Avian Influenza

EC contribution
: € 1 372 890
: 36 months
Starting date
: 01/12/2006
: Avian influenza viruses, Newcastle disease viruses, vaccines, diagnostics, immunology, DIVA
Project Number
: SSPE-CT-2007-044141


Avian influenza is a zoonotic disease and is seen as one of the most important emerging diseases with serious economic consequences. Although some vaccines for poultry are available, all vaccines have considerable drawbacks with regard to dose and application methods (injection), onset of immunity, efficacy or costs of production and application which limit their use.

The primary aim of this project is to develop better avian influenza vaccines through live or vector vaccines that could be mass applicable through spray, drinking water or eye drop. These vector vaccines would offer considerable advantages - mass applicable, less labour intensive and animal friendly application, protection by local and systemic immunity and less interference with eventual maternal antibodies, more complete protection through cellular and humoral immunity, faster onset of immunity when used in face of an outbreak and cheaper production methods.

The project exploits recently acquired knowledge concerning the molecular characterisation of the viruses resulting in the construction of candidate strains with highly interesting efficacy and safety profile. Safety and efficacy with Newcastle disease (NDV) vectors and infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) vectors both for H5 and for H7 inserts have already been demonstrated in vivo.

A system in which gene cassettes for the foreign proteins can easily be constructed and exchanged will be developed and will be able to respond very quickly to a change in antigenicity of the field virus. Further optimised additional candidate strains will be constructed and extensively tested. Experiments on genetic in vitro and in vivo stability, immunological responses, virulence testing, spreading, and transmission studies in chickens, ducks and other avian species will be performed.

The vaccines to be developed would also have marker aspects which will allow the differentiation of infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA principle). The development of sensitive, specific and easy to use marker diagnostic tests that will be compatible with the vaccines is another goal of this project.

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