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Human, animal vaccine development goal of hepatitis E virus research
Date:3/7/2008

ome ethical concerns, according to Meng, so developing the new animal models will be a major step forward in the research.

The first NIH grant, entitled Mechanism of hepatitis E virus replication and pathogenesis, conveys total funding of $1,561,797 and the co-investigators are Dr. Patrick G. Halbur, and Dr. Yao-Wei Huang. The second grant, entitled A chicken model to study hepatitis E virus pathogenesis includes funding of $1,266,300 and the co-investigators are Dr. F. William Pierson, Dr. Tanya LeRoith, and Dr. Yao-Wei Huang. Both grants begin on March 1, 2008 and will support four years of work.

The grants will enable researchers to learn more about the molecular mechanisms of HEV replication and pathogenesis by using pigs and chickens as animal model systems. Specifically, the researchers will study how HEV causes hepatitis, the gene(s) that are responsible for virulence, the mechanism(s) for cross-species infection by HEV, and how to attenuate the virus for vaccine development purpose. Ultimately, the researchers hope to develop a vaccine against this important human pathogen.

Mengs laboratory in the colleges Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease (CMMID) is considered one of the worlds leading Hepatitis E virus research centers. Previously, he had received nearly $2 million dollars from the NIH to study the same virus. Meng currently chairs the Hepatitis E Virus study group on the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).

Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and several private corporations, Mengs lab also studies several economically important animal viruses including porcine circovirues, and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. Recently, Mengs lab successfully developed the first USDA fully-licensed vaccine, Suvaxyn PCV2 One Dose, against porcine circovirus associated diseases, an economically important swine disease worldwide. Virginia Tech has licensed the vacci
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Contact: Jeff Douglas
jdouglas@vt.edu
540-231-7911
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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