Avian and Swine Flu Vaccine Programme

Programme Leaders: Dr Colin Butter and Prof Sarah Gilbert

Avian Influenza continues to be a threat to the worldwide poultry industry. Furthermore, the viruses responsible for all four of the worldwide human influenza pandemics seen in the last 100 years have originated from birds. An effective control strategy for avian influenza in domesticated poultry is therefore a prerequisite for the protection of both avian and human populations. Dr. Colin Butter and colleagues at The Pirbright Institute are seeking to develop strategies for the better protection of poultry, based on an enhanced understanding of the immunological response of chickens to avian influenza viruses.

To this end they are studying the biology of avian dendritic cells, a critical component in initiating protective immune responses; novel locations of the immune response (including the avian lung); and the molecular basis of the innate response to viral infection. In collaboration with Dr. Mike Skinner, Imperial College, they are also developing a number of novel vaccines, based on specific modulation of the immune response and targeting of dendritic cells, in order to produce robust immunity in neonatal birds. In addition, Dr. Munir Iqbal and colleagues at the Pirbright Institute are developing recombinant vaccines based on herpesvirus of turkeys and avian infectious bronchitis to express the HA of avian influenza virus for vaccination in ovo.

For further information about the Avian Influenza programme at the Pirbright Institute, see: http://www.pirbright.ac.uk/ISPG/AVD.aspx