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Collaboration to research deadly porcine disease


Calgary, AB – The PED virus kills young piglets at an astonishing rate with a near 100% mortality rate in suckling pigs. A Canadian collaboration has been launched to understand and stop the disease to protect the young pigs and to aid the pig industry in North America.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea first appeared in the United States in April 2013 and by January of 2014 it had appeared in Canada. Since it was first discovered in the US, at least 8 million pigs have died. So far more than 70 cases have been reported in Canada and it has found its way into PEI, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.

Genome Alberta saw a way for genomics to be used to respond to the threat and has put together a plan and find the necessary funding. The resulting collaboration is good news for PEDv research and for the pork industry.

The funding group consists of Genome Alberta, Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, Genome Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ontario Genomics Institute, and Genome Quebec. Together they announced three new research projects being funded to deal with the outbreak of PEDv:

The contributors to the $650,000 funding identified the value of genomics technology in dealing with the PEDv outbreak, launched the request for proposals, and assembled an international team of peer reviewers to recommend the projects to be funded.

The lead researchers and descriptions of the three funded projects are as follows:

Development of a new generation of modified live virus vaccine for PEDV using reverse genetics system. Alexander Zakhartchouk and Volker Gerdts, VIDO-InterVac, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Co-applicants for the project are affiliated with VIDO-InterVac and the University of Illinois. The goal of the project is to develop a live virus vaccine specifically directed towards sows to protect suckling piglets against disease.

Enhanced molecular diagnostics and validating genetic resistance to PEDv in pigs. John Harding, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Soren Alexandersen, National Centres for Animal Disease, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Co-applicants for the project are affiliated with the University of Saskathcewan, PigGen Canada, University of Alberta, and National Centres for Animal Disease. The project will investigate genomic and molecular mechanisms associated with PEDv survival in neonatal pigs using samples collected from farm outbreaks in Canada and the United States.

The use of new molecules in association with real time-qPCR assays to discriminate infectious from non-infectious porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) particles. Carl Gagnon, Universite de Montreal, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FMV). Co-applicants are affiliated with Animal Health Laboratory (AHL), University of Guelph, and Universite de Montreal, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FMV). The project will determine the presence of infectious porcine epidemic and diarrhea virus (PEDv) particles in environmental and food additives samples.