Prospects of Next-Generation Vaccines for Bluetongue

Rijn, P.A. van


Bluetongue (BT) is a haemorrhagic disease of wild and domestic ruminants with a huge economic worldwide impact on livestock. The disease is caused by BT-virus transmitted by Culicoides biting midges and disease control without vaccination is hardly possible. Vaccination is the most feasible and cost-effective way to minimize economic losses. Marketed BT vaccines are successfully used in different parts of the world. Inactivated BT vaccines are efficacious and safe but relatively expensive, whereas live-attenuated vaccines are efficacious and cheap but are unsafe because of under-attenuation, onward spread, reversion to virulence, and reassortment events. Both manufactured BT vaccines do not enable differentiating infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA) and protection is limited to the respective serotype. The ideal BT vaccine is a licensed, affordable, completely safe DIVA vaccine, that induces quick, lifelong, broad protection in all susceptible ruminant species. Promising vaccine candidates show improvement for one or more of these main vaccine standards. BTV protein vaccines and viral vector vaccines have DIVA potential depending on the selected BTV antigens, but are less effective and likely more costly per protected animal than current vaccines. Several vaccine platforms based on replicating BTV are applied for many serotypes by exchange of serotype dominant outer shell proteins. These platforms based on one BTV backbone result in attenuation or abortive virus replication and prevent disease by and spread of vaccine virus as well as reversion to virulence. These replicating BT vaccines induce humoral and T-cell mediated immune responses to all viral proteins except to one, which could enable DIVA tests. Most of these replicating vaccines can be produced similarly as currently marketed BT vaccines. All replicating vaccine platforms developed by reverse genetics are classified as genetic modified organisms. This implies extensive and expensive safety trails in target ruminant species, and acceptance by the community could be hindered. Nonetheless, several experimental BT vaccines show very promising improvements and could compete with marketed vaccines regarding their vaccine profile, but none of these next generation BT vaccines have been licensed yet.