Rift Valley Fever Virus (RVFV) is a mosquito-borne viral zoonosis which causes recurrent outbreaks of acute febrile illness in humans and livestock. Sheep, goats and cattle bear the brunt of RVFV through high rates of mortality in young animals and abortion in those that are pregnant. In humans, RVFV infection mostly presents as a self-limiting febrile illness but severe disease with high case fatality rates (>30% in some outbreaks) and debilitating sequelae (e.g. impaired vision) does occur. Since its isolation in Kenya in 1930 RVFV is now endemic in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Effective licensed vaccines are available for disease control in livestock. However, despite its profound impact on human health no licensed vaccines or anti-viral therapies are currently available for use against RVFV in humans. To address this unmet need the Jenner institute are utilizing a replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus platform with an established human safety profile, ChAdOx1, to develop a candidate vaccine for humans. The vaccine, termed ChAdOx1-GnGc, encodes RVFV envelope glycoproteins that are targets for protective neutralizing antibodies. Single-dose immunization with ChAdOx1-GnGc alone provides solid protection from RVFV challenge in mice and multiple ruminant species. Safety and immunogenicity testing of ChAdOx1-GnGc in human phase I clinical trials will provide key data for its future licensure and use during RVFV outbreaks.
Due to the recent Ebola outbreak there has been considerable awareness of the need to fast-track vaccine development for priority diseases. RVFV is one such disease due to the zoonotic potential it has.
On 18th November the BBSRC Veterinary Vaccinology Network co- hosted an Antigen Discovery and Proteomics of the Host immune Response workshop with Professor Rob Beynon at the University of Liverpool. The workshop was attended by 24 delegates from a variety of organizations around the UK. This workshop was held after suggestions made at the UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network Conference 2015.
The aim of this workshop was to provide attendees with an understanding of what current research and techniques are being used for Antigen Discovery and Proteomics of the host immune response. This included presentations from Dr Alasdair Nisbet, The Moredun Institute, Professor Julian Hiscox, University of Liverpool and Dr David Matthews, University of Bristol. The workshop also included a tour of the Centre for Proteomic Research and Centre for Genomic Research at the University of Liverpool. The day ended in a Dragon's Den session awarding a prize to Cosmin - Chintoan-Uta from the University of Striling who will use the Centre for Proteome Research to carry out research on the parasites Histomonas analysing the outer membrane surface targets to identify prime candidates for vaccine development.