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Million-dollar boost for k-state's swine flu vaccine

Million-dollar boost for k-state's swine flu vaccine

By Scout Nelson

Kansas State University's research on combating a significant threat to the global swine industry, valued at $57 billion in the U.S., has gained substantial financial support.

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, or FFAR, awarded a $1 million Seeding Solutions Grant to Waithaka Mwangi, a professor of immunology in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

This funding will accelerate his vital research aimed at developing a vaccine to prevent African Swine Fever Virus.

Elanco Animal Health, K-State's Office of the Vice President for Research, Kansas State University Innovation Partners, and MEDIAN Diagnostics Inc. have provided matching funds, bringing the total investment to $2,645,427.

African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) is a highly contagious and deadly disease in pigs, spreading rapidly with no current commercial treatment or vaccine available.

Mwangi’s team is at the forefront of this battle, urgently working to create and validate a vaccine that could provide crucial protection for pigs.

"My research is identifying which ASFV proteins induce protective immune responses, the optimal dose, the most effective immunization platform and a way to differentiate infected pigs from vaccinated ones," Mwangi explained.

This FFAR Seeding Solutions grant provides the funds for us to leverage additional stakeholder support needed to fund the necessary research to validate the effectiveness of a prototype vaccine that has already generated promising results.

The urgency of this research is underscored by the potential for devastating outbreaks in the U.S., which could affect not only pigs but also the wider agricultural sector, including staple crops like corn and soy.

"Should the virus reach the U.S., outputs from this research could slow the virus's spread, protect millions of U.S. pigs and safeguard our food supply," noted Jasmine Bruno, Ph.D., FFAR’s scientific program director.

Mwangi's team is addressing safety concerns and production constraints to meet regulatory approval standards for this new vaccine. This initiative not only aims to shield U.S. pork production but also seeks to reduce global spread, preserving the livelihood of swine producers worldwide.

Photo Credit -gettyimages-anna-tarazevich

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