WESTERN PRODUCER — Hog farmers sick of fighting porcine epidemic diarrhea virus have dreamed of having a vaccine to protect their pigs.
But those dreams were dashed six months ago when a pharmaceutical company gave up on its attempts to create a PED vaccine.
However, the head of the Veterinary Infectious Diseases Organization told Manitoba hog farmers that the dream was not dead. Using VIDO’s new facilities and new approaches, it might be possible to turn the PED vaccine into a barn-level reality.
“It is possible that the ultimate vaccine could be made at VIDO (at the University of Saskatchewan) and stored and available to the industry,” Andrew Van Kessell said at the Manitoba Swine Seminar.
A PED vaccine has been developed. That’s not the problem.
In a previous PED outbreak, Manitoba’s hog industry supported VIDO in developing an emergency-use vaccine, which was successful in fighting the piglet-killing disease.
But it has so far proven to be impossible to commercialize. A vaccine company took on the challenge but couldn’t make it work.
However, since the lab vaccine was developed, VIDO has expanded its capabilities, recently adding enough manufacturing capacity that it can produce small commercial-sized volumes of vaccine.
The intention of these facilities is not to replace private manufacturers, but to develop vaccines to a commercially viable state and then hand them off to vaccine companies.
To do that, they need to take vaccines from the lab and scale up to the kinds of volumes manufacturers would use in order to spot problems that might need to be worked out.
However, for vaccines for small livestock markets, those facilities could produce vaccines and keep them in store.
“We have that capacity now. We didn’t have that in 2013,” said Van Kessell.
VIDO is also exploring using a subunit vaccine for PED control, which is a new technology that avoids many of the problems that arise with needing to multiply disease cultures.
The hog industry associations of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have supported a VIDO-based bid for research funding from Swine Innovation Porc to develop this sort of PED vaccine. That bid is now in front of Agriculture Canada, Van Kessell said.