Use of CRISPR/cas9 gene editing for increased vaccine yields in avian cell lines - Phase 2
Poultry diseases cause devastating economic losses for small-scale livestock farmers globally. Embryonated chicken eggs (ECE) remain the main platform for poultry vaccine production worldwide despite clear limitations. These eggs are generally expensive and mostly imported, thus limiting access to vaccines by smallholder livestock farmers due to high pricing. Equally important are the ethical considerations of using ECE and the significant amount of egg waste that is produced — a critical cost issue, especially for low- and middle-income countries. In addition, ECE supply, especially during avian viral pandemics, is restricted, which reduces the ability to respond to any emerging threat.
Improved cell culture-based vaccine production is now a major alternative for the poultry vaccine industry in general. The objective of this project is to improve viral yields by removing the protective barrier that inhibits the replication of several highly pathogenic animal and human viruses, including Ebola, influenza, and HIV. Following the completion of a successful first phase, this project will advance the research towards a final modified cell line prototype that can attract further industry development and commercialization.
This novel technology could significantly reduce vaccine production costs. Further, it has the potential for application in many other existing vaccine production systems, thus enhancing vaccine availability for a wide range of livestock diseases that are significant for smallholders in developing countries.
This project is supported through the Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund, a partnership of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Affairs Canada, and IDRC. The Fund represents a joint investment of CA$57 million over five years to support the development, production, and commercialization of innovative vaccines against priority livestock diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.