USDA Scientist Develops Viral Construct That Helps Protect America’s Food Security

Andre Lowe contributed to the development of a genetically engineered immunological tool that prevents a contagious lethal viral disease in pigs.

African swine fever virus (ASFV) is the etiological agent of a contagious and often lethal viral disease of domestic pigs. There are no vaccines to control Africa swine fever (ASF). Experimental vaccines have been developed using genetically modified live attenuated ASFVs obtained by specifically deleting virus genes involved in virulence, including the thymidine kinase (TK) gene. TK has been shown to be involved in the virulence of several viruses, including ASFV. Here we report the construction of a recombinant virus (ASFV-G/V-ΔTK) obtained by deleting the TK gene in a virulent strain of ASFV Georgia adapted to replicate in Vero cells (ASFV-G/VP30). ASFV-G/P-ΔTK demonstrated decreased replication both in primary swine macrophage cell cultures and in Vero cells compared with ASFV-G/VP30.  In vivo, intramuscular administration of up to 10(6) TCID50 of ASFV-G/V-ΔTK does not result in ASF disease. However, these animals are not protected when challenged with the virulent parental Georgia strain.

Source: Deletion of the thymidine kinase gene induces complete attenuation of the Georgia isolate of African swine fever virus. – PubMed – NCBI