Zürich Switzerland 2nd of June 2020 – Saiba Animal Health AG today announced the ASF-INNOVAC consortium in which it is the lead SME was ranked 1st among 378 funding applications and will thus receive funding for 3 years to research and develop a vaccine against the African Swine Fever; one of the most serious infectious diseases affecting commercial livestock worldwide.
African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious and lethal haemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs which causes serious economic and production losses. In the last 13 years, over 200 million pigs died worldwide from the disease. In 2018, China, the largest swine producer with 440 million pigs, reduced their domestic herd by 40% because of an ASF outbreak. The infectious agent for ASF is the Asfarviridae virus which is transmitted by ticks or by feeding blood products from infected animals to healthy ones. To date there is no effective vaccine available for disease prevention.
The successful ASF-INNOVAC consortium includes Saiba Animal Health AG, the Laboratory of Immunology at the Swiss of Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI), the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre (BMC) and BISC Global. The partners will combine their expertise in VLP technologies, bioinformatics and artificial intelligence, antigen display, immune response expertise, pig immunology and biological safety facilities, to select the required antigens and engineer and test a safe and effective vaccine against ASFV. By completion of the project, the consortium aims to deliver proof of concept for an ASFV vaccine validated in the target species that is ready for large-scale validation in pigs and commercial partnering to deliver full clinical validation.
The Eurostars Program is a European joint program dedicated to R&D performing SMEs, and co-funded by the European Communities and 36 EUREKA member countries. Eurostars aims to stimulate these SMEs to lead international collaborative research and innovation projects by easing access to support and funding. It is fine-tuned to focus on the needs of SMEs, and specifically targets the development of new products, processes and services and the access to transnational and international markets.
Dr Martin F. Bachmann, CSO of Saiba Animal Health AG, commented, “We are most thankful to receive R&D support from Eurostars for this exciting project. Furthermore, we are pleased to be ranked 1st amongst all the applicants; I believe a reflection of the quality of the scientists involved in the consortium and the urgent need to develop a vaccine against African swine fever and protect against it’s dire economic consequences. The successful application also demonstrates the potential and versatility of our VLP platform technologies which can be used as therapeutic vaccines against chronic disease in companion animals and for prophylactic vaccines.