Development of a vaccine for malignant catarrhal fever

20 October 2021

In this International Veterinary Vaccinology Network webinar, Dr George Russell discussed the development of a vaccine for malignant catarrhal fever and potential consequences for the livestock-wildlife interface. The session was chaired by Professor Brian Perry, a member of the IVVN's Network Management Board.

George Russell is a principal investigator in the Vaccines and Diagnostics department of Moredun Research Institute. He has a degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow and a PhD from Warwick University. After postdoctoral work in bacterial genetics and protein engineering he joined Roslin Institute in 1990 to study immunogenetics of the bovine major histocompatibility complex. He moved to Moredun Research Institute in 2002 to work in the viral immunomodulation programme, with a focus on malignant catarrhal fever, a fatal viral disease of cattle.

In addition to interests in genetic variation within viruses and host species he has been involved in the development of a vaccine for wildebeest-associated Malignant Catarrhal Fever for over fifteen years. Intramuscular prime-boost immunisation with culture-attenuated virus (alcelaphine herpesvirus 1) was found to protect cattle from a fatal intranasal MCF challenge. The vaccine has been tested in multiple experimental trials with efficacy of over 80% and has also been confirmed in field trials in Tanzania, South Africa, and Kenya.

Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP) has recently been licensed to produce the vaccine for use in South Africa and technology transfer is currently in progress. A collaborative research project with University of Glasgow and Tanzanian partners is now looking at the potential for uptake of the vaccine in east Africa and the likely consequences for the livestock-wildlife interface.

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