Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Kansas State partners with South Korean drugmaker to develop African swine fever vaccine


By David Schwartz
Published: July 21st, 2020

Kansas State University is partnering with a South Korean veterinary medicine company in an attempt to create a vaccine against African swine fever. The disease is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa and has spread to different regions of Europe and Asia, causing devastating losses worth billions of dollars in China, Vietnam and other surrounding countries where pork is the most popular food item.

A sponsored research agreement between K-State and MEDIAN Diagnostics Inc., or MDx, has been facilitated K-State Innovation Partners, the university’s commercialization arm.

“The technology we are utilizing is based on a novel adenovirus backbone — developed from human adenovirus serotype 6 — that can amplify a transgene up to 10,000 copies in the infected cell without producing infectious viruses,” says Waithaka Mwangi, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Mwangi says single-cycle adenovirus technology, or SCAd, allows a recombinant virus encoding a gene of interest to mediate protein expression in an infected cell in a similar manner as a replication competent virus but without producing infectious progeny — making it safe to use. The SCAd platform was originally developed at the Mayo Clinic.

“We believe this will be a way to deliver a safe and effective vaccine,” Mwangi says, adding

that the SCAd vaccine platform can safely induce more robust and persistent immune responses compared to more conventional live, inactivated and subunit vaccines.

“There are a lot of issues to be solved for commercializing an African swine fever virus vaccine, and one of the main problems is safety,” says JinSik Oh, CEO of MDx. “We should enhance the vaccine efficacy on the basis of guaranteed safety. We are convinced the SCAd technology is one of the most advanced and promising platforms to develop next-generation African swine fever vaccine candidates, and Kansas State University is the best partner to cooperate with in the veterinary research and development area.”

Funding for the project is through 2023, when MDx expects the formulation and testing of the new ASF virus vaccine candidate to be completed.

ASF remains a threat to enter the U.S., where there are millions of feral pigs and ticks capable of transmitting the virus, potentially devastating the swine and related industries. The pork industry in China and other parts of Asia was severely damaged by a 2018 outbreak of the virus and is still slowly recovering, and the virus is now expected to become endemic in Europe where it has infected wild boars.

Source: National Hog Farmer

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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