Grayson-Jockey Club Approves Funding for EHV-1 and EHM Vaccine Research

The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation recently issued a special call for research proposals to address vaccines for Equid Alphaherpesvirus 1 (EHV-1) and Equine Herpesvirus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) and after a thorough review process by the foundation’s veterinarian advisory committee, two research proposals were selected for funding.

The projects, led by Gisela Soboll Hussey of Michigan State University and Bettina Wagner of Cornell University, aim to develop novel nucleic acid vaccines to protect horses from EHV-1/EHM and EHV-4.

Soboll Hussey’s project is titled, “Use of nucleic acid vaccines to protect from EHV-1/EHM,” and it will last three years. Her objective is to develop a novel mRNA-based EHV vaccine that protects horses from EHV-1 myeloencephalopathy, a method that will likely cross-protect horses against other types of equine herpesviruses. Wagner’s project, titled, “A novel DNA vaccine platform to control EHV-1 and EHV-4,” will span two years and aims to develop an effective DNA vaccine for EHV-1 to protect horses against infection and disease, working to prevent catastrophic EHV outbreaks in the future.

The EHV-1 and EHM viruses affect horses of every breed and discipline, and they continue to cause significant economic losses through closures of racetracks and sales barns, delays in training schedules, and severe disease and death of horses. Total funding for the projects of $1,885,436 was provided by special donor Dr. John Ballantyne and Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation.

“The work of our research advisory committee is timely and essential,” Dell Hancock, chairman of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, said. “We look forward to working with these institutions to develop these vaccines and protect the equine industry from the devastating effects of EHV-1 and EHM.”

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