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Unique collaboration will combat deadly disease found in pigs

The PED virus kills young piglets at an astonishing rate with a near 100% mortality rate in suckling pigs. A Canadian effort has been launched to understand and stop the disease to protect the young pigs and to aid the pig industry in North America.
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea first appeared in the United States in April 2013 and by January of 2014 it has appeared in Canada. Since it was first discovered in the U.S., at least 8 million pigs have died. So far more than 70 cases have been reported in Canada and it has found its way into PEI, Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba.
Genome Alberta saw a way for genomics to be used to respond to the threat and decided to put together a plan and find the necessary funding. It wasn't an easy challenge for us to take on with limited budget and resources, but it was worth it because the resulting collaboration is good news for PEDv research and for the pork industry.

The funding group we put together consists of Genome Alberta, Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, Genome Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ontario Genomics Institute, and Genome Quebec.
With us taking the lead we put together the criteria for a research funding competition and put out the call. There was a great deal of interest from the research community and an international team of peer reviewers went through the applications and made their recommendations.
Today we officially announced the 3 successful projects we will be funding:

  • Development of a new generation of modified live virus vaccine for PEDv using reverse genetics system (led by VIDO-Intervac at the University of Saskatchewan)
  • Enhanced molecular diagnosis and validating genetic resistance to PEDv in pigs (led by the University of Saskatchewan and the National Centres for Animal Disease)
  • The use of new molecules in association with real time-qPCR assays to discriminate infectious from non-infectious porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) particles. (led by Faculté de médecine vétérinaire (FMV), Université de Montréal)

Lead researchers and funded projects:

Development of a new generation of modified live virus vaccine for PEDV using reverse genetics system

Alexander Zakhartchouk and Volker Gerdts
VIDO-InterVac,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Co-applicants for the project are affiliated with VIDO-InterVac and the University of Illinois.
The goal of the project is to develop a live virus vaccine specifically directed towards sows to protect suckling piglets against disease.

Enhanced molecular diagnostics and validating genetic resistance to PEDv in pigs

John Harding
University of Saskatchewan,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Soren Alexandersen
National Centres for Animal Disease
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Co-applicants for the project are affiliated with the University of Saskathcewan, PigGen Canada, University of Alberta, and National Centres for Animal Disease.
The project will investigate genomic and molecular mechanisms associated with PEDv survival in neonatal pigs using samples collected from farm outbreaks in Canada and the United States

The use of new molecules in association with real time-qPCR assays to discriminate infectious from non-infectious porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) particles

Carl Gagnon
Universite de Montreal, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FMV)
Co-applicants are affiliated with Animal Health Laboratory (AHL), University of Guelph, and Universite de Montreal, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FMV)
The project will determine the presence of infectious porcine epidemic and diarrhea virus (PEDv) particles in environmental and food additives samples.


We'd like to thank everyone involved from all the funders and to the peer reviewers for their time.

Unique collaboration will combat deadly disease found in pigs

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