GLOBAL – Research led by a team from the University of Leeds has found a ‘chink in the armour’ of the Schmallenberg virus (SBV).
The development, which works on dismantling the nucelocapsid protein within the virus, comes as welcome news to the livestock industry. The virus has advanced across Europe with 1,500 farms in the UK now confirmed as being infected.
However, a workable solution is going to be a long-term venture with the arrival of an anti-viral drug expected to still be five to 10 years away.
This is according to Dr Tom Edwards, Co-leader of the study, from Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences. He told theCattleSite that an anti-viral drug would be of use in controlling SBV in wild animal populations.
“While vaccination might help the situation, there is evidence that SBV will go into wild deer and boar and in this context, vaccination is not feasible,” Said Dr Edwards. “In terms of an anti-viral drug, this will be a five to 10 year project - it is not going to be tomorrow.”
The breakthrough works by targeting the nuceleocapsid protein (NCP) which links four identical protein units of the virus together in a ring like structure. Without the nucleocapsid protein the virus is inhibited.
The NCP is critical to the virus structure; it wraps up the DNA of the virus and recruits the proteins vital to its development, added Dr Edwards.
“The shape of the nucleocapsid protein has shown us important details of how the individual proteins in these rings are interacting. This not only tells us how the virus works, but importantly we think we can block that interaction and disrupt the process of making the ring.”
The development could allow for other Orthabunyaviruses to be combatted such as Akabane virus, said Dr Edwards suggesting the possibility of benefits to both animal and human populations.
Work is now underway to design small molecules to block the ring formation which will hopefully be developed as an anti-viral drug.
Find out more information on Schmallenberg by clicking here.