Behind the Science

Genetic engineering (cloning and protein expression) was used to produce IBDV proteins that self-assemble into virus-like-particles (VLPs). These VLPs are unique because the proteins were expressed from multiple antigenic strains of IBDV and were incorporated into a multivalent VLP product (universal vaccine). A universal vaccine that will protect against multiple antigenic strains of IBDV has been produced and validated. This genetically engineered vaccine is flexible so new antigens can be easily introduced to keep pace with antigenic changes that result from virus mutations.

The VLP vaccines for IBDV have the potential to replace autogenous vaccines currently used by the U.S. poultry industry. Autogenous vaccines are prepared by isolating a pathogenic virus from a farm, preparing an antigen product from that virus following growth in live chicks and then returning the antigenic product as a vaccine to the farm of origin. The VLP vaccines for IBDV would eliminate the need to propagate the viruses in live chickens; currently the standard procedure in the poultry vaccine industry. Furthermore, the VLPs do not contain infectious IBDV which results in a safer product.

The VLPs antigens will also be produced as a reagent for use in diagnostic kits currently produced and marketed by several companies. The VLP reagents are a higher quality and less-expensive alternative to the antigens currently used by those companies.