The USDA-ARS Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory in East Lansing, Mich., is experiencing difficulty in operations. The laboratory, which among other achievements was instrumental in developing the original HVT vaccine for Marek’s disease, has been subjected to successive USDA budget cuts and threats of closure.

The staff of the lab include highly trained scientists with specific expertise in leukosis and Marek’s, in addition to new molecular biological techniques for diagnosis and prevention of disease. Recently, two projects have been funded by Congress including an in-depth study of the mechanisms of action for Marek’s disease and avian leukosis viruses and a project on genomics and immunology of chickens.

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Research conducted at the ADOL could shortly result in the release of a new recombinant vaccine against Marek’s disease. It is generally acknowledged that new vaccine strains lose effectiveness after 10 to 15 years.