In Ohio, which ranks ninth in the U.S. in overall pork production, according to the National Pork Board, outbreaks of PRRS have been more common since 2010. Even among vaccinated sow herds in the state, the virus can cause 10-20% mortality, a significant economic loss for an industry worth $681.5 million in production value alone and that supports 10,000 jobs.
The vaccine has been successfully tested in a small number of animals at Ohio State. The next step involves extensive field trials in hundreds of pigs in commercial herds.
"The vaccine appears to be commercially feasible," he says. "Once it is produced in large quantities, its cost should be similar or just a little more than that of currently available vaccines for PRRS."
The market for this vaccine is significant. Industry leaders have reported nearly $100 million in annual swine vaccine sales, Gourapura said. In addition to the U.S., the new vaccine could be targeted to swine operations in Europe, China and other swine-producing countries.
Gourapura says his vaccine could also become a model for the development of similar nanoparticle-encapsulated vaccines for other diseases affecting pigs and other food-producing animals.
"This vaccine research performed in pigs also has a better translational value for human vaccine development than research conducted with mice, because the pig respiratory system closely resembles that of humans," he says.
This research project has been supported by several grants from the National Pork Board
, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's PRRS CAP2 project and OARDC, totaling over $500,000.