Vaccines, diagnostics and biology of the livestock morbilliviruses rinderpest virus and peste des petits ruminants virus

Lead Research Organisation: The Pirbright Institute
Department Name: UNLISTED


Peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV) is a morbillivirus, closely related to the human pathogen Measles virus (MV) and Rinderpest virus (RPV), the recently eradicated cause of a devastating disease of cattle. PPR is a rapidly spreading disease of sheep and goats, widespread now in large parts of the developing world. Since these animals are most commonly the primary livestock of people at the bottom end of the economic ladder, the socio-economic impact of PPR outbreaks tends to be particularly hard on these groups, and there is a growing movement to control and eventually eradicate PPR. IAH played a significant role in the eradication of RPV, including training, diagnostic development and understanding the biology of the virus. This project aims to make a similar contribution to the global effort against PPRV.
On the applied side, we are developing new vaccines against PPR which will allow the distinguishing of infected and vaccinated animals (DIVA vaccines), as well as pen-side tests to allow more rapid identification of PPRV infection. A significant part of this work involves collaboration with laboratories in Africa to uplift their capabilities. We are working in the laboratory on generating recombinant antigen for diagnostic tests, to eliminate the need for growing live virus. We are also studying the molecular and cell biology of the virus, examining the way it controls host innate immune responses. We have developed a system for recovering live virus from a DNA copy of the genome, allowing us to create targeted mutations in the virus, and will apply this technique to studies of the growth of the virus and the biology underlying the restriction of disease to sheep and goats.


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Baron MD (2016) Peste des Petits Ruminants Virus. in Advances in virus research

Description PPR is a small ruminant disease of growing global importance. We have developed a coherent method of generating the disease in captive animals, allowing to begin the study of the pathology of the virus as well as enabling us to make definitive assays of the effectiveness of novel and existing vaccines.
We have developed an entirely helper-cell dependent form of PPRV, which will allow the creation of non-replicating forms of the virus that can be safely handled outside of the containment laboratory.
Project is ongoing.
Exploitation Route This should wait until the project is closer to completion.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description We are developing a contract with a commercial company to license the helper-cell dependent virus system to create a diagnostic ELISA.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

Description Work for OIE on PPR control
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guidance committee
Impact Input to development of global disease policy for PPR as a livestock disease. This has now become polcy for all countries that are members of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health)
Description work for FAO on rinderpest sequestration
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Description Responsive grant
Amount £173,000 (GBP)
Organisation Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 10/2013 
End 09/2017
Description Sequencing and destruction of rinderpest virus isolates
Amount £178,124 (GBP)
Organisation World Organisation for Animal Health 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 04/2016 
End 03/2018
Description Sub-contract
Amount £485,430 (GBP)
Organisation World Organisation for Animal Health 
Sector Public
Country France
Start 10/2012 
End 10/2015
Title Challenge system for peste des petits ruminants virus 
Description Technique developed to give reproducible disease outcome in UK goats on infection with peste des petits ruminants virus (PPRV), allowing controlled testing of vaccines 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2013 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This system has allowed us to reproducibly and appropriately test new vaccines against PPRV as well as assess the effectiveness of existing vaccines. Several papers have been published. 
Title field diagnostic test for PPR 
Description Diagnostic test for the sheep/goat disease PPR. This test is now being sold to global groups involved in the world-wide eradication program for PPR. 
Type Diagnostic Tool - Non-Imaging
Current Stage Of Development Small-scale adoption
Year Development Stage Completed 2014
Development Status Under active development/distribution
Impact Increased awareness of the roles of correct diagnosis in disease control.