Vaccine Development Against Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus Utilizing the Hepatitis B Virus Core Antigen Protein
Porcine epidemic diarrhea Virus (PEDV) is a virus effecting swine. It is the cause of disease that manifests with symptoms ranging from depression, to severe dehydration and death. Young piglets are particularly susceptible to the virus, which can reach mortality rates of 100%. Presence of the virus on a swine farm can therefore cause severe economic losses. Treatments currently exist for PEDV, but are mostly generated from the virus itself. There has recently been renewed interest in a vaccine that is made from a different source, which might help eliminate some of the side effects of those that currently exist on the market.
This project outlines three experiments performed in animals. During the first experiment, a structural protein from the Hepatitis B virus was genetically altered to include important structural portions of PEDV. This new protein is generated in E. coli and purified. After purification, the protein assembles into a virus-like particle (VLP). VLPs are structural proteins of existing viruses that are expressed and assembled to mimic the virus. By doing so, the immune system recognizes the protein as a potential threat, and launches a response in the form of antibodies. Manipulations of the VLPs as describe herein allow the new vaccine to generate antibodies toward other diseases such as PEDV. Although all five of the vaccines used in the first experiment were able to generate appropriate antibodies, only two of them were effective at preventing PEDV from entering susceptible cells (virus neutralization).
A second experiment, with three newly designed vaccines was therefore performed. This experiment, like the first, was successful in producing antibodies to several of the included PEDV protein sections, but none were able to neutralize the virus. These results led to a third experiment, during which further design improvements were made to the basic vaccine structure in an attempt to increase the neutralization capabilities of the vaccines. The results from the third experiment indicated that several changes to the vaccine increased the immune response to the structural portions of PEDV, providing a better overall vaccine candidate. This also led to the conclusion that one specific sequence from PEDV has a better ability to neutralize the virus than the other sections.