Pig Disease that Costs Millions Targeted by Genetic Study
News Apr 11, 2013
A transatlantic research group is to tackle porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS), which leads to reproductive failure in breeding stock and causes respiratory tract illness in young pigs.
Also known as Blue-Ear Pig Disease, the condition can prove fatal as it affects pigs' immune systems and leaves them vulnerable to other infections.
Researchers at The Roslin Insitute, at the University of Edinburgh, are working with Iowa State University, which has received a $3M grant, to find ways to tackle this devastating virus.
They will study whether some pigs have a genetic makeup that makes them less likely to become sick following infections. This knowledge could help to ensure the breeding of healthier pigs, which are less likely to succumb to PRRS.
The virus is especially virulent as it evolves rapidly. As a result it now has many genetic variants. This causes challenges in vaccine production, as an inoculation against one strain does not protect against another strain of the virus.
The research will include look at whether breeding for a specific gene variant, which protects against PRSS, does not have knock-on effects such as making the animal more vulnerable to another disease.
Although the exact economic impact of PRRSV has not yet been quantified in Europe, the virus is estimated to cost the American swine industry around $600M a year - almost a third of its losses related to infectious diseases.
Professor Steve Bishop, of The Roslin Institute said: "The constant mutation of the PRRS virus means that the efficacy of vaccines is severely hindered. This collaborative research project will enable us to assess the potential use of breeding to help reduce the impacts of this problematic disease."
The $3M grant to look into PRRS was awarded by the US Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, while The Roslin Institute receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Professor Jack Dekkers, from Iowa State University, said: "This grant is going to help us continue our work towards finding a way for the pork industry to get a handle on a costly and difficult-to-control disease, and we're excited to move forward with our collaborators."
Identifying gene variants that protect against infection can be a tricky process, and researchers have to be certain that breeding for a specific gene variant that makes pigs less susceptible to PRRS doesn't have unintended consequences, such as making the animal more vulnerable to another disease.
Synchrotron Light Shows Human Domestication of Seeds From 2000BCNews
For the first time, scientists from University College London have used the UK's synchrotron facility to document the evolution of seed coat thinning from archaeological remains.READ MORE
Edith Heard Unanimously Selected as Next Director General of EMBLNews
At its 53rd meeting yesterday, EMBL Council selected Edith Heard as the organization’s fifth Director General. Heard’s mandate is scheduled to begin 1 January 2019.READ MORE
CRISPR Transforms Living Cells Into Data Storage DevicesNews
Genome engineering technology transforms living cells into archival data storage devices that capture, store, and propagate information over time.READ MORE
Comments | 0 ADD COMMENT
EMBL Course: Next Generation Sequencing: RNA Sequencing Library Preparation
Apr 23 - Apr 27, 2018
EMBO Practical Course: Microbial Metagenomics: A 360º Approach
Apr 23 - Apr 30, 2018
EMBL Course: Next Generation Sequencing: Whole Genome Sequencing Library Preparation
Apr 16 - Apr 20, 2018
EMBL Course: Introduction to Next Generation Sequencing
Apr 09 - Apr 12, 2018