In June, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted a conditional license for a foot-and-mouth disease vaccine for use in cattle. The vaccine was developed at Plum Island Animal Disease Center, Orient Point, N.Y., in partnership with the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical and Biological Defense Division. According to the Department of Homeland Security, this is the world’s first licensed molecular foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine and the first to be approved for manufacture on the U.S. mainland. Although the United States has been free of the disease since 1929, the vaccine could be used in the event a domestic outbreak.
“The important capability of this vaccine compared with other foot-and-mouth disease vaccines that have been developed in the past is that it can be manufactured on the mainland in the United States because it does not contain live FMD virus,” Plum Island Director Larry Barrett , DVM, says.
The ability to manufacture the vaccine on the mainland is crucial as the Plum Island center is nearing the end of its life span. A Bio-safety Level 4 National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is being planned for construction on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, Kan. A government-backed committee of the National Research Council issued a report July 13 providing options for moving forward with the project to the Department of Homeland Security. The facility is tentatively scheduled for completion in October 2020.
This molecular-based FMD vaccine was developed by scientists with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and the Department of Homeland Security at Plum Island Animal Disease Center and is the result of a seven-year collaboration with industry partners GenVec Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in Gaithersburg, Md., and Antelope Valley Biologics, a Benchmark Biolabs affiliate based in Lincoln, Neb. Additionally, the vaccine does not require expensive, high-containment facilities because it does not use the infectious materials of the live FMD virus. The Department of Homeland Security and the Plum Island center are working with the animal health vaccine manufacturer Merial to evaluate the production process