Infectious bronchitis virus is highly contagious and responsible for major economic losses to the poultry industry worldwide. The virus causes chickens to experience weight loss, decreased egg production and impaired egg quality, as well as leaving them vulnerable to other diseases.
Current vaccines protect against some but not all strains of the virus.
Published in the Journal of Virology, researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the Pirbright Institute have tested a new approach using a specialist type of vaccine – known as recombinant virus vaccines. These vaccines use harmless or weak versions of a virus or bacteria to introduce microbes into cells in the body.
Results show the vaccine offered partial protection against infectious bronchitis virus, although further research was needed to develop a more robust vaccine. Researchers said these recombinant vaccines had the potential to be more cost-effective and respond to emerging new virus strains. The next step will be to make a vaccine that remains harmless, but induces a stronger immune response.
Professor Lonneke Vervelde, who led the study at the University’s Roslin Institute, said:
“There is a real need to develop new vaccines against infectious bronchitis that protect against multiple strains and offer rapid responses. We are trying to make a vaccine that offers broad protection, but further research is needed to develop a more robust vaccine.”
Dr Erica Bickerton at the Pirbright Institute added: “Our research hopes to develop more cost-effective and efficient commercial vaccines that are capable of protecting chickens against this serious disease.”