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Progetto AVIAMED

Avian VIral disease prevention and control with plant-derived vaccines for the MEDiterranean area

Tipo di Finanziamento: 
Programmi dell'Unione Europea
Programma UE: 
da 25 Febbraio 2016 a 30 Giugno 2019
Ruolo ENEA: 
Laboratorio di riferimento: 
Responsabile di Progetto: 
Selene Baschieri

Infectious Bursal disease virus (IBDV) and Newcastle disease virus (NDV) are the cause of economically important diseases of poultry in the Mediterranean countries. Vaccines are regarded as the most beneficial interventions to prevent these infections. Traditional veterinary vaccine formulations based on whole killed or inactivated pathogens are not always efficient and may be occasionally associated with undesired reactions. To overcome these problems, researchers are attempting to define formulations based only on selected components of the pathogens (antigens) (subunit vaccines).The aim of the present project is to use plants as “biofactories” to produce low cost innovative poultry vaccines (and diagnostic tools) based on IBDV and NDV antigens fortified in their intrinsic immunological properties by appropriate modifications (fusion to immune potentiating moieties). Why plants as “biofactories”? In subunit vaccines now emerging on the market, antigenic subunits are produced in their “recombinant” version in bacterial, yeast, or animal cells. This means that the DNA sequences encoding these antigens are inserted in these cells (hosts) where, due to the the universality of the genetic code, they start to be translated in proteins (“expressed”, in the biotechnology jargon). By this approach the host becomes a “biofactory”. Plants are considered as a valid alternative to traditional hosts for the production of recombinant proteins for biopharmaceutical purposes, such as antigens for vaccine formulations. If the encoding DNA sequence is inserted into the plant genome it can be transmitted to the progeny and the protein is constantly synthesized (stable expression).As an alternative, methods can be adopted in which the DNA is not transmitted to the progeny and the protein is only temporarily produced in plant tissues (transient expression). The plant “biofactory” based approach suggested by AVIAMED has the potential to result in: i) ease and rapidity of production scale up at low costs, ii) simplification of the purification procedures, iii) improvement of vaccine efficacy, iv) development of low cost and ready to use diagnostic tools able to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA) in surveillance programs and international trade of poultry and poultry products.