ECO Animal Health Group signs two vaccine development and licencing deals

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ECO Animal Health Ltd (LON:ECO), a wholly owned subsidiary of ECO Animal Health Group plc, has announced that it has entered two worldwide exclusive research partnerships to develop novel vaccines for use in pigs. These two new partnerships with The Pirbright Institute in the UK and The Vaccine Group reinforce ECO’s commitment to research and development focused on diseases of economic importance in pigs and poultry.

The first collaboration will, over an 18 month period, utilise innovative technologies at Pirbright to develop killed PRRSV vaccine candidates capable of entering a full development programme and providing immunity against multiple strains of the virus. A killed PRRSV vaccine would offer an attractive alternative to the current generation of live vaccines, which are only partially effective against different strains and suffer from safety constraints owing to the potential for the live vaccine virus to revert back to an infectious form.

The second collaboration will test vaccine candidates at Pirbright created using TVG technology to insert non-infectious PRRSV genes supplied by Pirbright into a benign herpesvirus, which then stimulates the immune system when delivered into animals. Vaccines that use herpesviruses as their base have been shown to provoke particularly strong reactions from T cells, which are a vital part of the antiviral response. It is expected that the initial phase to develop candidate vaccines capable of entering a full development programme will be up to 18 months.

The two PRRSV species (type-1 and type-2) are responsible for one of the most economically damaging diseases to the global pig industry, costing European pig farmers an estimated €1.5 billion a year and those in the US approximately $600 million.

Professor Simon Graham, Group Leader of PRRS Immunology at The Pirbright Institute, states: “Creating  a killed vaccine that can prevent the spread of multiple strains would provide flexibility in tackling outbreaks as well as an improved safety profile, both vital for effective control of the disease. The exciting herpes virus based vaccine project takes a novel approach to addressing the urgent requirement for improved vaccines to combat the global spread of PRRSV.”

TVG Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Associate Professor Dr Michael Jarvis observes: “This is an exciting opportunity that brings together critical basic science and translational expertise towards addressing this major infectious disease in pigs.”  

Commenting Marc Loomes, CEO of ECO Animal Health Group plc, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with The  Pirbright Institute once again to develop  novel vaccines, enabling the protection of pigs whilst reducing the risks associated with the use of live vaccines for a disease of global economic importance. Our collaboration with The Pirbright Institute and TVG leverages the deep scientific expertise of The Pirbright Institute and TVG’s novel herpesvirus vector technology in an exciting new approach to PRRSV vaccination”.

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