The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is making headway in the development of an African Swine Fever (ASF) virus vaccine. A vaccine candidate has now been adapted to grow in a cell line. Senior ARS scientist Dr. Manuel Borca said that the discovery is an important step in the process. Working with a cell line is helpful for making the set toward large-scale production. Researchers will no longer be dependent upon live pigs and their fresh cells.
“Traditionally we used freshly isolated swine cells to produce vaccine candidates and this constitutes a significant limitation for large-scale production” senior ARS scientist Dr. Douglas Gladue said in a press release. “But now we can retain the vaccine characteristics while simultaneously replicating the vaccine in lab-grown cell cultures. We no longer have to rely on gathering fresh cells from live swine.”
Growing the vaccine candidate will address one of the major obstacles for large-scale production. The recent discovery was published in the Journal of Virology. Tests of the continuous cell line vaccine candidate determined it to be safe when used in a commercial breed of pigs. No negative effects were recorded, and the pigs were protected against ASF. The vaccine grown in a continuous cell line contained all the same characteristics as the one produced using fresh swine cells.
While there have not been any outbreaks of ASF in the U.S., the virus has resulted in several deadly outbreaks in areas of Eastern Europe and Asia. If a domestic outbreak were to occur, it is estimated that it could cost more than $14 billion over a period of two years, and $50 billion over a decade. The virus does not pose a threat to human health, but outbreaks have led to substantial losses and pork shortages on a global scale.