IRTA-CReSA investigates the MERS-CoV in a new European project

The new European ZAPI (Zoonosis Anticipation and Preparedness Initiative) aims to shorten the time to adequately respond to emerging infectious diseases using a “one world, one health” approach. The Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (IRTA-CReSA), as a partner of the consortium, will focus the research on the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a severe respiratory disease in human transmitted by animals.

Zoonoses are those diseases and infections which are naturally transmitted between animals and human. More than 60% of pathogens known to infect human are zoonotic and have a clear relationship with the Veterinary Public Health activities. The project will yield platforms for the rapid identification and production of viral domains that can be used as veterinary vaccines and will yield platforms for the rapid development, selection and production of protective antibodies to protect the human population. The project will not only aim at rapid development of these products, but also ensure fast track registration and implementation of the control tools as soon as possible after pathogen emergence. To develop these pipelines, the project will focus on three priority pathogens: Rift Valley fever virus, Schmallenberg virus SBV and MERS-CoV.

IRTA-CReSA, a research center from IRTA, will focus the work on using animal models for testing vaccine prototypes against the MERS-CoV. This disease was observed in the humans by the first time in 2012 and more than 1000 cases of human infected with mortality around 35% have been confirmed since then. MERS-CoV has been isolated in human and camels, but more joint human health and animal health investigations are needed to respond unanswered questions. IRTA-CReSA has already experience working with this virus, since an experiment was carried out in dromedaries inside the Biosecurity level 3 (BSL-3) facilities of the center.

ZAPI have just started and was launched in response to the 11th call of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), brings together 20 European partners from academia, industry and regulatory specialists with a budget of over 20 m€ and will have a duration of 5 years. IMI is Europe's largest public-private initiative aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. It is a joint undertaking between the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in order to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe.

More information:

Press release about the project kick-off meeting: http://www.wageningenur.nl/en/newsarticle/Launch-of-the-Zoonoses-Anticipation-and-Preparedness-Initiative-ZAPI.htm

More information about MERS-CoV (source: OIE): Questions & Answers on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS‐CoV). Update: August 2014.

More information about zoonoses (Spanish): Revista CReSAPIENS nº 6

About IRTA:

IRTA is a research institute devoted to R+D+I in a variety of agri-food areas, such as vegetal production, animal production, food industries, environment and global change, and agri-food economy. The transfer of scientific advances contribute to the modernization, competitiveness and sustainable development of agriculture, food and aquaculture sectors, the supply of healthy and quality foods for consumers and, consequently, improving the welfare of the population. IRTA is adscribed to the Departament d’Agricultura, Ramaderia, Pesca, Alimentació i Medi Natural (DAAM, Department of Agriculture) of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia).

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