Sub-project 1 – April 2020

April 9th, 2020

Working with Germany to test FMD virus inactivation

Petrus Jansen van Vuren is collaborating with the Friedrich Loeffler Institute in Germany to assess the stability of several FMD serotype viruses under different temperature and humidity conditions to provide data to SP4 for wind dispersion modelling. The SP1 team is also investigating whether FMD virus, in diagnostic samples collected on infected farms, can be inactivated by transport buffer solutions on the way to the laboratory.  Inactivation of the virus in samples will ensure that state laboratories can safely perform FMD testing during post-outbreak surveillance without being contaminated by virus, and while maintaining the reliability of the diagnostic testing.

Using novel approaches to better understand the responses to FMD vaccines

Nagendra Singanallur, one of the SP1 researchers, has been working on a pilot study about the early immune responses in pigs when vaccinated with FMD vaccines. It is one of the mysteries of vaccination that some animals respond well to vaccination and develop high levels of antibodies to FMD virus, while other animals receiving the same vaccine do not. Adding to the mystery, some animals with high levels of antibodies are not protected when challenged with live FMD virus, while the opposite can also occur; that is, animals may show good protection despite a lack of measurable antibodies.

The aim of the pilot study was to study the role of immune responses that occur before antibodies can be detected and to identify genomic markers to differentiate vaccine responders from non-responders. To investigate, the team used two different routes of vaccination – the regular injection into the muscle, and application into the dermal layer of the skin (intradermal application) – to see if the route of vaccination may have an impact on how the pigs respond to the vaccine. To look at the immune responses in more detail, the team are using a novel method called the systems-based immunology approach not previously applied to pigs.

The trial was conducted in collaboration with MSD Animal Health at CSIRO’s Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) (formerly the Australian Animal Health Laboratory) under strict regulatory approvals, as it did not involve the use of live FMD virus. The pilot study provided the team with the opportunity to work in Australia and build work practices that may come in handy if an FMD outbreak occurs in Australia. This trial has also opened up opportunities for systems-based immunology to be applied at ACDP for other diseases. The team will now start doing the more complex laboratory assays.

In exciting news, Nagendra has also received the Early- and Mid-Career Fellowships 2020, through the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, to better understand the responses of Asian buffaloes to FMD vaccination.  He will be collaborating with a research team at the Tamil Nadu Veterinary Sciences University, Chennai in India when there is an opportunity for international travel.  This work will be first of its kind in Asian buffaloes.