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Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome – or PRRS – is a virus that all pork producers dread. It’s a highly-mutating type of disease, so current vaccines and treatments haven’t been successful at eliminating the problems with it.
A new start-up company in Illinois called Aptimmune Biologics, is taking a different approach to the traditional intramuscular vaccine. Steve Berger is the company’s development director. He says they’re working on a vaccine that’s administered in the pig’s nose.
"We believe that the mucosal surfaces of the respiratory tract, which is where this virus actually infects and affects the animal, is the most important location to develop an appropriate immune response," says Berger. "And so that’s how our proprietary formulation of a vaccine is designed in order to stimulate the immune response in the mucosal surfaces in order to prevent the shedding, the spreading of the virus in the herd."
Berger says PRRS has huge financial implications for the swine industry and there’s clearly a return on an investment in a vaccine that solves that problem. However, one of the difficulties the company is facing is that there have been vaccines on the market for 25-years.
"And so some people either are starting to think it’s not worth it to vaccinate, or that they’re not going to get a return on investment by investing in vaccines," he says. "That’s the paradigm that we intend to shift, to come out with a solution to prove that there is a solution to PRRS and to flu."
Berger says the vaccine is now available for veterinarians, and it will help the company understand how the vaccine is best leveraged within the production systems.