A NEW vaccine to combat orf could be on the way, if trials due to be conducted at Moredun this spring are successful.

David Haig told farmers weekly that trials would begin early next year on a new vaccine which would be using certain parts of the orf virus to fight itself.

“The orf virus is made up of many genes, some of which it has hijacked from its hosts over time. These genes taken from the host are used by the orf virus to help block the immune response of the host,” he said.

Having sequenced the orf virus’s genome, Dr Haig’s team have been able to use viral parts of the host-acquired genes and make peptides which can be used in a vaccine to cause an immune response against viral molecules.

“This new vaccine will be used in orf-nave animals and we will then be looking for an immune response to orf in the blood of these animals.”

A number of animal health companies are interested in the outcome of this with a view to manufacturing a vaccine, he added.