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Prototype vaccine developed by U of S scientists to protect pork industry

U of S scientists develop vaccine that could protect North American swine industry from virus that’s killed over eight million pigs since 2013.
U of S scientists develop vaccine that could protect North American swine industry from virus that’s killed over eight million pigs since 2013. Sean Gallup / Getty Images / File

Scientists at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) have developed a vaccine that could protect the North American swine industry from a virus that’s killed over eight million pigs since 2013.

The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) hit the United States in 2013 and spread to Canada the following year. It occurs only in pigs and has cost over $400 million in lost income.

READ MORE: Sask. pork producers concerned virus could spread due to inadequate cleaning at border

Using new infrastructure, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) quickly launched a project to combat PEDV.

A prototype vaccine was developed within a year and is now undergoing field testing in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“It protected up to 100 per cent of the piglets,” said VIDO-InterVac research director Dr. Volker Gerdts.

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READ MORE: Manitoba veterinary office can’t find pig virus source

Successful test results have led to an animal health company, Huvepharma, partnering up with the U of S research organization to develop the technology for commercial production of the vaccine.

“Our goal is to have the vaccine available for commercial use as soon as possible to help stop producer losses,” said Dr. Boris Gavrilov, senior scientist for biologics development at Huvepharma.

VIDO-InterVac operates with over $200 million worth of state-of-the-art containment facilities in Saskatoon to research and protect humans and animals from infectious disease.