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Posted: 10th May 2024

Research begins to develop single-shot Nipah virus vaccine
“Commercial development has been limited as companies fear limited marketability due to the sporadic nature of outbreaks” – Simon Graham.
One-shot vaccine could tackle spread of the zoonotic virus.

An international team of scientists and commercial partners have begun a two-year project to develop a vaccine and companion diagnostic test to protect pigs from Nipah virus (NiV).

Led by The Pirbright Institute, the researchers will look to develop a one-shot bivalent vaccine, building on previous research which developed a two-shot immunisation regime.

The project, which has received funding from the UK government, will also involve researchers from the Friedrich Loeffler Institute in Germany and three UK companies: EnsiliTech, Global Access Diagnostics and BioVacc Consulting.

First discovered in 1999, NiV is a zoonotic virus that is carried by fruit bats and has caused outbreaks among pigs and humans in Southeast Asia. Pigs act as an amplifying host, allowing the virus to spread more easily to humans. The virus is on the World Health Organization’s priority pathogen list.

In humans, NiV can cause fatal encephalitis. An outbreak in Malaysia in 1998-99 resulted in more than 100 people dying and nearly half of the country’s pig population being culled as a control measure. In the past year, there have been fatal human cases in Bangladesh and India.

Simon Graham, who is leading the research, said: “Despite the threat NiV poses, no vaccines are available. Commercial development has been limited as companies fear limited marketability due to the sporadic nature of outbreaks.

“To address this gap, the consortium aims to develop a vaccine for pigs which could be deployed in response to an outbreak situation, or routinely used to reduce the risk of NiV outbreaks occurring.”

Image © Shutterstock

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