Prof. Jung-ki Kim and Team Developed an Antigen for H3N8 Vaccine
▲ From Left, KU Professor Jung-ki Kim, Dr. Dea-seop Song and Dr. Dae-gyun Jeong from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology.
A Korean research team developed a technology to create an equine influenza vaccine to replace the currently fully import-dependent vaccines. The team transferred the technology to a domestic veterinary vaccine company.
* equine influenza: an acute, highly infectious respiratory disease that is mainly caused by the H3N8 virus. This disease involves high fever and coughs.
This technology transfer is expected to help domestically produce and sell within two years an equine influenza vaccine which is competitive in price as well as effect against imported products. The new vaccine will replace the currently imported vaccines (for 30,000 horses) worth approximately one million dollars a year and enter neighboring markets including Mongolia (worth approximately 10 million dollars a year with two million horses), China and Japan.
This accomplishment was achieved by KU professor Kim and Dr. Song and Dr. Jeong from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology with support from the BioNano Health Guard Research Center (head: Bong-hyun Jeong) as part of the global frontier project led by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.
Equine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that occurs around the world ranging from Europe to the Americas, and to Asia. The influenza was recently reported in Korea's neighboring countries such as China, Japan and Mongolia. In Korea, there is a growing voice for controlling horse diseases with the development of the leisure industry. Currently, Korea's equine influenza vaccine supply is 100% dependent on importation. With mutations of the equine influenza, however, Korea now sees the need to develop a Korea-specific vaccine.
The research team secured specimen from horse ranches in Korea, conducted virus inspections to isolate Korea-specific virus types, analyzed their genes and features, and successfully created an antigen for vaccine production.
The team also conducted clinical tests on 120 horses in Mongolia and confirmed that the vaccine they created was as effective as imported vaccines, with no impurities or side effects observed. The clinical tests were supported by a Mongolian government-sponsored institution (the Institute of Veterinary Medicine), which shows the nation's great interest in the project, giving a bright prospect for future export of the vaccine.
The researchers said that the entire horse population in Korea has been vaccinated against equine influenza with imported products because of the absence of a domestic technology to produce an equine influenza vaccine. The horse industry promotion act, which was passed in 2013, is expected to increase the demand for horse vaccines. The team also added, "The Korea-type equine influenza vaccine is expected not only to replace current imported products in Korea, but also enter overseas markets."