Surface modification of materials for control of beak and feather disease virus (BFDV) in a wild population of endangered parakeets

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials


Viruses represent one of the biggest medical challenges throughout human healthcare and this is only highlighted by the current pandemic, however in the animal world viruses also have the ability to ravage populations and create dire situations for potentially endangered species. Animal viruses have far less research put into them however they represent not only potential population sinks for viral mutation before entering the human population, but also the other way around where animals have the potential to catch human viruses and their populations become damaged by this. The specific virus target for the project here effects all parrot species globally and is preventing the successful conservation efforts of those scientists in Mauritius that are fighting to build up a population of endangered parakeets from less than 20 breeding pairs in the wild. The project here involves creating/synthesising a material that will irreversibly disrupt a virus and in the hopes of preventing the spread of the virus amongst the endangered population.

The development of this material has already proved successful in regards to a Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-2) and work will soon turn onto other viruses to prove the theoretical broad-spectrum efficacy. This has potential to be a future therapy for viral infections by improving healthcare technologies. Currently there are only antivirals that have the ability to reduce the impact of a virus on an individual however over the past 50 years only 90 have actually been approved for use in humans with animal research in this area taking a decided back seat to the human population. The novelty of an inexpensive broad-spectrum virucidal antiviral that can target a large family of viruses relying on the Herparan Sulfate Proteoglycan binding sites to operate poses a very exciting advance in viral treatment.

Work has already been done to develop the antiviral material and has been tested in-vitro against HSV-2 with preparation to work on Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) as well as Cytomegalovirus (CMV). Limited animal toxicity testing has already been conducted on fruit flies showing no adverse effect due to ingestion of the material as well as preliminary testing on zebrafish eggs showing no adverse effects up to a concentration of 10mg/mL in their water. Ethics approval has taken place in order to begin testing on chicken eggs in a manner equivalent to the treatment of the wild parakeet eggs in order to prove less toxicity than their current biosecurity measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Further to this the conservation team have expressed their approval to move forward to implement the material in their biosecurity efforts and observe whether or not there is a beneficial impact of the material on preventing the spread of the virus throughout the population.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R513131/1 30/09/2018 29/09/2023
2472868 Studentship EP/R513131/1 15/09/2019 30/06/2023 Elana Super