Media Coverage

Kansas State scientist bags grants for swine disease research


Oct 05, 2017 - Animal Pharm
By Sian Lazell
Animal Pharm
October 5, 2017


A Kansas State University (KSU) researcher has been granted over $700,000 to study swine diseases and influenza B virus.

Wenjun Ma, associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at KSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, has received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) R21 grant of $411,664 and a second award of $303,865 in the form of a contract grant from Merck Animal Health.

The finance from NIH will be used to investigate the links between respiratory swine disease and influenza B virus. A previous study by Prof Ma indicated domestic pigs are susceptible to influenza B virus infection. Additionally, swine herds previously exposed to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) had a higher prevalence of influenza B virus antibodies.

The grant from Merck – known as MSD Animal Health outside of North America – will back the study of the molecular epidemiology and pathogenicity of porcine circovirus 3 (PCV3) in pigs.

Prof Ma said: "Unlike influenza A virus that infects a wide range of species, influenza B virus infections are almost exclusively restricted to humans, despite sporadic infections reported in seals. It is unclear whether other animal species can support the replication of influenza B virus and serve as a reservoir.

"Studying the differences between human and swine influenza B virus isolates might improve our understanding of how influenza B viruses are maintained when they are not circulating in humans. The results of these experiments would likely reveal new information about the molecular mechanisms of influenza B virus replication and its evolution in nonhuman species, which is an important issue in the influenza research community."

He added: "While unproven, we suspect that PCV3 plays an etiologic role in porcine dermatitis and nephropathy syndrome, and may be responsible for reproductive failure. To date, no viruses have been successfully isolated and cultured. In this proposal, we try to address critical questions regarding epidemiology and pathogenicity of PCV3 in pigs by collaborating with Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory."

At present, KSU's Olathe and Manhattan campuses are collaborating with the University of Missouri-Kansas City to establish 1Data – a project designed to accelerate breakthroughs in human and animal health.

The project aims to establish a new standard for analyzing cross-species health information and reduce the cost of drug development by bringing the two sectors closer together. 

Reprinted with permission of Animal Pharm News

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