disease virus (FMDV) causes one of the most economically important viral
diseases of domestic livestock including cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.
Since the disease is endemic in many countries, transmission by international
travel / trade presents an on-going potential threat to the UK.
is one of the most contagious mammalian viruses: it can infect domestic
animals and over 70 species of wildlife, greatly increasing the difficulty
of disease control – further complicated by the existence of 7
distinct serotypes with thousands of strains. Rising demand for animal
products in, for example, China and India together with poor harvests
(leading to increased animal feed prices), has lead to sustainability
of food supplies becoming a UK strategic research priority.
is probably the most rapidly replicating mammalian virus known: cells
die within ~4hrs. Undoubtedly genomic features unique to FMDV are responsible,
but very little detail is known as to how the virus interacts with the
cell to such dramatic effect. Paradoxically, FMDV readily establishes
persistent infections, complicating disease control measures: similarly,
very little is known about this process at the molecular level.
the UK FMDV outbreak in 2001, a key recommendation in the report of
the Royal Society was the promotion of collaborations between University-based
academics and those at Pirbright. Given the nature of the virus, however,
it was not at all clear how this recommendation could be realised in
practice. Relatively recently permission has been granted by HSE/DEFRA
to work outwith Pirbright on the FMDV ‘replicon’ (a form
of the genome bearing a large deletion within the capsid proteins –
completely biosecure). This has made possible – for the first
time on FMDV – a new, higher-level, interaction between University-based
academics with those based at Pirbright. The university laboratories
have long-standing interests and expertise in the molecular biology
of FMDV / molecular virology, or, can bring exciting and very powerful
new technologies to bear on these new lines of investigation.
Pirbright Institute is a world centre of excellence on FMDV, hosts the
World and European reference laboratories for this virus, and now is
the site of a World-leading bio-security research facility (follow link
to 'Project Partners').
of the unanimous recommendations made at the OIE/FAO Global Conference
on Foot and Mouth Disease (Asunción, Paraguay 24-26 June 2009)
was “There is an urgent need for research in vaccines that
will improve the access of countries to good quality vaccines that are
fit for purpose against the prevailing field strains of the FMD virus
in each virus reservoir, in each relevant species, and which can be
cost effective and used in challenging environmental conditions”.
The conference reiterated support for “Further research on
the development of effective and quality vaccines and the availability
of vaccines at diminished cost for all prevailing field strains of the
FMD virus for all susceptible domestic animals be encouraged and expedited
with the emphasis on the availability, cost-effectiveness and safe use
under challenging environmental conditions”.
is, therefore, complete accord between the aspirations by the global
FMDV community and the BBSRC strategic research priorities;
Animal Health. The animal health priority is to support research aimed
at combating infectious diseases – including endemic, exotic and
zoonotic – that reduce the health and welfare of animals farmed
for food production in the UK.
Livestock Production. The overall BBSRC food security priority aims
to encourage research that will enhance UK and/or global food security.