UMN researchers aim to get more nuanced understanding of PRRSV

Predicted antigenic differences between variants tells whether past infection by one variant likely to protect against future infection by another.


Source: University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine

via National Hog Farmer - May 06, 2022


Despite increased biosecurity efforts and a revolving door of new vaccines, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, a swine disease that imposes an annual $664 million burden on the U.S. swine industry, persists. 


Now, a group of University of Minnesota researchers aims to give scientists a more nuanced look at whether past infection by one genetic variant will provide immunity against another, thanks to new funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


All viruses contain antigenic regions, which are molecular structures on a virus's surface that, when recognized by the immune system, trigger an antibody response. So a clear picture of how a virus's genetic sequence translates to antigenic characteristics is critical in order to predict whether infection by one strain of PRRSV will protect against another. Though genetic sequencing allows diagnostic laboratories to keep track of the genetic differences between viral variants, scientists currently lack the tools to visualize and interpret the sequencing data as it relates to the differences between the antigens associated with each variant.


But being able to see those differences is critical for on-farm management of PRRSV outbreaks, to anticipate a new viral variant, and even to develop new vaccines...