Large DNA Viruses

Lead Research Organisation: The Pirbright Institute
Department Name: UNLISTED

Abstract

The veterinary megavirales research group aims to examine the molecular interactions between these highly specialised viruses and the host, and apply the resultant discoveries to novel diagnostic, treatment and prevention strategies. The megavirales are large DNA viruses which replicate almost exclusively in the cytoplasm. They include two genera with substantial veterinary impact – the Asfarviridae and Capripoxviridae. African swine fever virus is the sole species in the asfarviridae genus. It causes a rapidly fatal disease in domestic pigs and is currently spreading from the Caucasus westwards through Europe. There is no vaccine currently available, and as such this virus represents a clear danger to the pig industry of Europe. The capripoxvirus genus includes three species of poxvirus – Sheeppox virus, Goatpox virus and Lumpy skin disease virus. These poxviruses affect ruminants and cause of substantial loss to subsistence farmers in Africa and south east and central Asia. The most serious threat to the UK is Lumpy skin disease virus which, over the past decade, has steadily spread through the Middle East to Turkey and entered Europe for the first time in 2015. It has since continued to spread through Greece and Bulgaria, and into Macedonia.

To facilitate development of better diagnostic tools and vaccines against the viruses the Megavirales research group at Pirbright will (i) Sequence and compare the genomes of a panel of capripoxvirus strains to identify genes which determine host specificity and virulence. The role of the proteins encoded by the genes will then be determined. (ii) Use high throughput screening techniques to identify host proteins which strongly influence Megavirales replication, and investigate their mechanisms of function. (iii) Study the innate immune response to virus infection, with emphasis on uncovering how the viruses are detected by the host. These fundamental studies will shed light on this remarkable group of viruses and aid the development of more effective means of disease detection and control.
 
Description This Large DNA Virus award (BBS/E/I/00002087) was led by Dr Pip Beard, a new Group Leader at The Pirbright Institute, and facilitated the setting up of a new research group focused on large DNA viruses affecting veterinary livestock. The award was particularly timely given the emergence of LSD into Europe in August 2015, and enabled Pirbright to remain at the forefront of research into capripoxvirus disease and contribute to the successful control of the LSD epidemic in eastern Europe by 2018.
The award focused on building a strong base of validated tools and techniques and using them to carry out high quality fundamental research into the capripoxvirus genus of poxviruses, and to extend these findings to the related dsDNA virus African swine fever virus (ASFV). The new information gathered has been and will continue to be used to underpin development of novel diagnostic tools and vaccines against these high consequence veterinary viruses.
The most significant achievements were the further funding secured using preliminary data from this award, and the new collaborations formed.
Further funding of over £6 million was secured on the preliminary work from this project and includes:
BBSRC Responsive Mode IPA project BB/R002606/1 "Vector-borne transmission of Lumpy Skin Disease Virus". This project is a collaboration between Pirbright scientists and industrial partner Merck Animal Health and will examine the spread of Lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) by insects.
BBSRC Responsive Mode project BB/R008833/1 "Design and development of improved Capripoxvirus vaccines". This project will use preliminary data from BBS/E/I/00002087 "Large DNA Viruses" to develop improved live attenuated vaccines to prevent cattle from LSDV.
H2020 project "Addressing the dual emerging threats of African Swine Fever and Lumpy Skin Disease in Europe (DEFEND)". This is a €5.6million 5 year project with 33 consortium partners from 21 countries, due to start in June 2018. The project is led by Dr Pip Beard at The Pirbright Institute and aims to control the growing LSD and ASF epidemics in Europe and neighbouring countries by understanding the drivers of LSDV and ASFV emergence, by generating novel diagnostic tools and vaccines, and by authenticating appropriate and rapid responses by decision-makers.
Two PhD studentships have been awarded to further research into lumpy skin disease. One is funded by the Pirbright Institute in collaboration with the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI ), and the second is an iCASE studentship through the Oxford Interdisciplinary Biosciences Doctoral Training Programme. Both studentships will run from 2018-2022.
New collaborations have been formed to increase the impact of the research. Industry partners include Merck Animal Health, Zoetis, and ID-VET who provide financial and in-kind support to the BBSRC and H2020 funded research led by Dr Beard, and will undertake to implement the research findings into new diagnostic and vaccine tools with which to control capripoxvirus disease. Strong links with researchers and decision makers in countries in eastern Europe affected by the LSD epidemic have been formed and will underpin development of better management policies to control disease spread. New partnerships have been formed with researchers in Mongolia and Nigeria where capripoxvirus disease is endemic and contributes to sustaining rural poverty. Further funding from the BBSRC Impact Acceleration Account and GCRF schemes have enabled collaborative research projects to be set up with colleagues at the State Central Veterinary Laboratory in Mongolia and Bauchi State Veterinary Services in Nigeria. These projects will examine the strains of CPPV present in these areas, estimate the economic cost of capripoxvirus disease in these areas, and trial prototype serological diagnostic tests in partnership with ID-VET.
The Large DNA Virus award (BBS/E/I/00002087) has therefore enabled the establishment of a vibrant, securely-funded and centrally positioned research group into large DNA viruses, with a world-leading position in capripoxvirus research, particularly the rapidly emerging cattle pathogen lumpy skin disease virus.
Exploitation Route As described above, one of the most significant achievements from the award was to facilitate the formation of key collaborations with industry, academic and government partner, and underpin a number of successful further funding bids. The findings will be taken forward in these future funding projects, and within the 2017-2022 Pirbright Host and Virus ISP programmes
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description The main impact of the project was through knowledge transfer during the 2015-2018 lumpy skin disease epidemic in Europe. Information about LSD was provided to national and international bodies by Dr Beard through academic publications, lay press articles, online articles, webinars, seminars, and through expert advice provided to policy making bodies. This contributed to evidence-based control programmes being put in place in south-east Europe, resulting in the spread of LSD into the European cattle population being halted. This has resulted in substantial economic benefits to the cattle industry and rural communities in eastern and central Europe in particular. It is a textbook example of how Pirbright responds in a timely fashion to threats from viral pathogens of livestock. The knowledge gained during this award continues to be exploited through advice to Defra on the threat posed by lumpy skin disease to the UK, and means to mitigate this threat.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Expert advice on a LSD vaccination strategy for the UK
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Expert advice on a Lumpy skin disease vaccine bank for the UK
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description Lumpy Skin Disease Control Strategy for Great Britain
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Prevention and Control of LSD
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact I have participated as an expert advisor on committees and panels focused on the control of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in Europe. This has contributed to the formulation of an effective control strategy, focused on the use of live-attenuated vaccines, in south-eastern Europe. The effective control strategy has prevented LSD from entering central Europe. The economic benefit of restricting LSD spread to central Europe is the major impact. This is difficult to estimate but in the millions of Euros.
 
Description BBSRC Responsive Mode IPA
Amount £302,086 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/R002606/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 06/2019
 
Description BBSRC Responsive Mode funding
Amount £595,574 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/R008833/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
End 04/2021
 
Description BBSRC responsive mode funding
Amount £356,484 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/T005173/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 12/2021
 
Description BBSRC-funded Oxford Doctoral Training Partnership in vivo skills award
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2020 
End 06/2021
 
Description Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and University of Oxford joint Doctoral Training Project
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 08/2022
 
Description GALVmed funding for LSD
Amount € 846,516 (EUR)
Organisation GALVmed 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2016 
End 11/2018
 
Description H2020 work programme topic 9 Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy, work topic SFS-10-2017 Research and approaches for emerging diseases in plants and terrestrial livestock
Amount € 5,986,250 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission H2020 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 05/2018 
End 04/2023
 
Description Pirbright Institute PhD studentship
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Pirbright Institute 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 08/2022
 
Description The Pirbright Institute Flexible Talent Mobility Account Innovation Fellowship
Amount £19,636 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2020 
End 10/2020
 
Description Collaboration with Bauchi State Veterinary Services, Nigeria 
Organisation Bauchi State University
Country Nigeria 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have provided expertise on sheeppox, goatpox and lumpy skin disease virus diagnosis and epidemiology
Collaborator Contribution Our collaborators in Bauchi State have provided virus samples and epidemiological data
Impact Preliminary data was used to support successful funding via a BBSRC Impact Accelerator Award, and a Pathways to Impact project in BBSRC project BB/R008833/1 "Development of rationally designed live-attenuated lumpy skin disease vaccines"
Start Year 2016
 
Description Collaboration with State Central Veterinary Laboratory, Mongolia 
Organisation State Central Veterinary Laboratory
Country Mongolia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We provided tools, techniques and expertise on sheeppox and goatpox
Collaborator Contribution Our colleagues provided data and field samples
Impact A workshop was held in Pirbright in March 2017, and a return workshop in Ulaanbaatar in July 2017. Preliminary data supported successful grant applications for an Impact Accelerator Award, and a Pathways to Impact project in BB/R008833/1 "Development of rationally designed live-attenuated lumpy skin disease vaccines".
Start Year 2016
 
Description Emergence newsletter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact I wrote an article for the online newsletter eMergence.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.emergence-msd-animal-health.com/NewsletterArticle.aspx?NL=9&Article=2
 
Description European Animal Health and Welfare Research Collaborative Working Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was an invited expert speaker at a meeting (16-17Nov16) of the European Animal Health and Welfare Research Collaborative Working Group, which is a forum for European collaboration on animal health & welfare research prioritisation & procurement. I presented expert information and advice on lumpy skin disease (LSD). The intended purpose was to provide information so that policymakers can co-ordinate and best prioritise animal health and welfare research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description European Medicines Agency Workshop on LSD 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I attended the European Medicines Agency Workshop on Lumpy Skin Disease (31Jan17) as an invited expert speaker. The workshop included policymakers, industry representative, government representatives and European Commission representatives, and was focused on control measures for LSD used in Europe.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description European Regional Workshop for Prevention and Control of LSD 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I attended the European Regional Workshop for Prevention and Control of lumpy skin disease (LSD) (11-12May16) as an invited expert on LSD. The workshop was sponsored by the European Commission and included the chief veterinary officers from many European nations. The purpose was to share expert knowledge about LSD with countries with or threatened by the disease, in order to help them construct effective LSD control programmes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Expert advice for European Partners 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I provided expert advice which included a formal presentation at a workshop sponsored by the European Commission on "Strengthening regional cooperation in South East Europe and Middle East for prevention and control of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD)". This was a key forum which promoted co-operation of affected countries in the face of the LSD epidemic, and helped formulate the response of the region to the virus.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2903/sp.efsa.2016.EN-1059/epdf
 
Description LSD APHA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I gave a seminar on lumpy skin disease to scientists at the Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) at Weybridge. This resulted in further advice being given to APHA to help them determine the risk posed by LSDV and appropriate policy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description LSD vaccines IAEA workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I gave a seminar at the Regional Workshop on the Diagnosis and Control of lumpy skin disease, held in Vienna at the IAEA headquarters. My seminar was on LSD vaccines. As a result of the seminar I was able to assemble a consortium of scientists to work towards a proposal for a H2020 funding opportunity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Lumpy Skin Disease D2R2 profile 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Provided expert opinion to the assessment (D2R2) of the risk of lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) to the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Lumpy skin disease diagnosis 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On 20May16 I presented an expert seminar on lumpy skin disease diagnosis as part of a webinar sponsored Current Transboundary Animal Disease challenges in the Thrace and Balkan region:: expert advice on laboratory diagnosis and biosecurity. The target audience was representatives from national veterinary laboratories and contingency planners, focal points and consultants, as well as anybody involved in the applied diagnosis and control of transboundary animal diseases in the Balkan and Thrace countries and surrounding areas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://fao.adobeconnect.com/p56ix750po2/
 
Description National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact I wrote an article on lumpy skin disease for the National Animal Disease Information Service (NADIS), a website which promotes animal health and welfare through better disease control and prevention.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.nadis.org.uk/bulletins/lumpy-skin-disease.aspx
 
Description Television Interview Ulaanbaatar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I gave a television interview to Mongolian national television while attending a workshop in Ulaanbaatar. The interview was focused on the collaboration between the State Central Veterinary Laboratory in Ulaanbaatar and The Pirbright Institute, particularly the work we are undertaking on sheeppox and goatpox.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Television interview Ulaanbaatar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was interviewed by UB television while on a collaborative visit to the State Central Veterinary Laboratory in Mongolia. I spoke about the collaboration between The Pirbright Institute and the SCVL, and how this benefits the Mongolian agricultural sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017