A vaccine against foot-and-mouth disease has been developed as a result of a collaborative project between Universiat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), the Spanish Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the Spanish National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA) and Genome España.
The vaccine, designed and produced on a pilot scale in the protein chemistry laboratory at UPF, is an innovative approach that combines multiple copies of the structural components, called epitopes, of the viruses that generate protective immunity in a single molecular platform.
The vaccine consists of peptides and is produced by chemical synthesis, which gives it several advantages compared to conventional vaccines. Although vaccination is the best preventive strategy against foot-and-mouth disease (and most infectious diseases), the conventional vaccines based on attenuated or inactivated viruses have many disadvantages. This is the reason for the interest in what are known as subunit vaccines, which include those based on peptides, such as the one described here.
Pompeu Fabra University, represented by Francesc Posas, the vice-rector for Science Policy, signed an exclusivity agreement on October 7 with Virbac, a French multinational company that is a leader in the animal health sector, to market a technology developed in the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences (CEXS). It is a veterinary vaccine for the prevention of foot-and-mouth disease, the most economically devastating animal disease worldwide.
In this context, the exclusivity agreement with Virbac includes the production, evaluation and eventual marketing of the vaccine in the People's Republic of China, where the market for these vaccines amounts to more than US$200 million a year for the pig sector alone.