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UK: New Foot-and-Mouth vaccine breakthrough

A new and safer Foot-and-Mouth (FMD) vaccine is a major breakthrough in the fight against the disease, say researchers.

The vaccine, which is still several years away from commercial use, is synthetic and does not rely on growing live and infectious virus. This makes it safer to use, easier to store and more stable.

Professor David Stuart, life science director at Diamond Light Source, said the new development was close to "the holy grail of foot-and-mouth vaccines".

"Unlike traditional vaccines, there is no chance the empty shell vaccine could revert to an infectious form. This work will have a broad and enduring impact on vaccine development and the technology should be transferable to other viruses from the same family," he said.

The ability to produce a vaccine outside of high containment and that does not require cold storage should also help reduce costs and increase production. This could make global control of the disease easier.

Tests to determine the absence of infection in vaccinated animals should also be more accurate with the new vaccine.
The UK's chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens described the development as a "valuable weapon" in the fight to eradicate foot-and-mouth.

"This is an exciting leap forward. Vaccines of this type would have clear advantages over current technology as a possible option to help control the disease should we ever have another outbreak."

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