Frontier IP Group PLC (LON:FIPP) said its portfolio firm, The Vaccine Group (TVG), has signed a collaboration deal with the Pirbright Institute and ECO Animal Health Group PLC (LON:EAH) to develop a vaccine to combat porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome virus (PRRSV), one of the most economically damaging diseases in the global pig industry.
Under the terms of the deal, ECO Animal Health will fund an 18-month development project that will see TVG use its novel vaccine technology as a platform for two prototype PRRSV vaccines. Meanwhile, Pirbright, a world leading centre of excellence in controlling viral diseases of livestock and viruses that spread from animal to humans, will supply the PRRSV genes and conduct animal trials for the vaccines to test their effectiveness.
The vaccines will be created by inserting non-infectious conserved genes from PRRSV 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.
PRRSV costs European pig farmers an estimated €1.5bn per year and around US$600mln for the American pig industry.
“This is an exciting opportunity that brings together critical basic science and translational expertise towards addressing this major infectious disease in pigs. As PRRSV is a member of the Nidovirus group of viruses, a group that also contains [COVID-19], what we learn from development of a PRRSV vaccine may also help inform our development of a vaccine against [COVID-19]", TVG founder and chief scientific officer Michael Jarvis said in a statement.
"This collaboration with The Pirbright Institute and ECO Animal Health provides a strong endorsement for the potential of The Vaccine Group's novel vaccine platform technology. The company has made very good progress this year, and we are delighted it continues to go from strength to strength", added Frontier IP’s chief commercialisation officer Matthew White.