Progress made towards an SBV vaccine

According to researchers at a Glaswegian university, their latest work has paved the way for the future development of Schmallenberg Virus (SBV) vaccines.

Researchers at the MRC Centre for Virus Research, University of Glasgow, have developed methods to synthesise and change the genome of the virus in a bid to learn how it induces disease among livestock.

The virus is of great concern to livestock farmers, as it causes stillbirths, abortions and fetal defects in pregnant cows and ewes. According to researchers, SBV has spread “rapidly throughout Europe since its discovery in October 2011 in Germany".

One of the lead research professors, Prof Palmarini, explained that insect-borne viruses, such as SBV, are increasingly becoming a problem on a global scale. He said such viruses, which are known as “arboviruses” were limited mainly to tropical parts of the world in the past.

He added: “The spread of arboviruses is probably the result of several factors, including an increase in travelling and commercial exchanges, climate and ecological changes, and increased livestock production. This study will help us to understand how SBV works, but it can also serve as an example for other related viruses that may emerge in the future.

“The new research describes the molecular biological methods used to design and assemble the viral ‘genome’ completely in a test tube in a form that can be easily introduced and replicated in cultured cells. From these cells the researchers recovered the virus with identical infection properties to the ‘natural’ SBV.”

It has also been discovered that SBV rapidly grows in the brain and the spinal cord of the aborted animals. Researchers also said the virus infects neuron cells, which is why the brain is often infected and therefore damaged.

The virus can be transmitted to livestock when bitten by insects, such as midges, which are virus carriers.


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