Elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus (EEHV) can infect and cause mortality in captive and wild elephants posing a threat to the continuation and success of captive breeding programs for the highly endangered Asian elephant in both North American and European zoos. As a result, development of a safe and effective vaccine has high priority and will have a great impact on the health of captive elephants, safe geographic translocations and successful continuation of breeding programs. Artemis One Health has been focusing on the development of an ELISA that can be used to study the epidemiology of the disease, and the development of a safe and effective vaccine. In order to achieve both tasks Artemis is working on producing the glycoprotein B (gB) and N (gN) of the virus. A test was developed using the gB protein to first monitor the presence of the virus in elephant herds in several zoos. However, the amount of gB that we managed to produce is not enough or sufficiently pure to allow large scale studies. Therefore, currently we are using a novel protein expression platform (Leishmania tarentolae) to produce the gB and gN protein which will be used for the development of a new generation serological test and a potential candidate vaccine.
What is the context of this research?
EEHV can cause a highly fatal hemorrhagic disease (bleeding disease) in young Asian elephants, like Ebola in humans, often affecting those born in captivity, and killing up to 90% of severely affected animals. Since 1995, over fifty disease cases have been documented in North America and Europe, of which only nine have been successfully cured. As it is difficult to cure EEHV bleeding disease, a safe and effective vaccine currently represents the most feasible strategy in combating this disease. The glycoprotein N of EEHV is highly immunogenic and represents a plausible candidate protein for a vaccine against EEHV. The Leishmania protein expression system (LEXSY; Jena Bioscience GmbH), based on the lizard parasite Leishmania tarentolae, has been described in the literature for its ability to efficiently express proteins at a large scale, but also for its ability to add the right sugar groups to protein, allowing them to closely resemble their native form. As a result, expression of gN using the Leishmania platform is likely to increase the chance of this protein to induce an effective immune response.
What is the significance of this charity project?
The elephant is one of the most recognized and beloved animal species and is listed by the World Conservation Union as a critically endangered species. Captive breeding is the only source for replacing elephants at zoos and for maintaining the genetic diversity of captive populations. EEHV can kill up to 90% of severely affected animals, including baby elephants, the virus represents an additional threat to the propagation of an animal species that is already highly endangered due to human behaviour, such as poaching and habitat destruction. Vaccination of captive elephants represents the most plausible and cost-effective strategy for combating EEHV-related deaths and increasing the survival of this important animal species. Producing a highly immunogenic protein of EEHV at a large scale brings us one step closer to the development of an effective vaccine.
What are the goals?
- Expression and purification of gB and gN in Leishmania tarentola.
- Testing the antigenicity of the protein in an ELISA using sera from EEHV-infected zoo elephants.
- Development of a safe and effective vaccine against EEHV.
Overview investment of the money
Request: Artemis One Health Research Foundation is seeking up as much as €30.000 in funding for this charity project
|Laboratory consumables||€ 24,150|
|Maintanance equipment necessary for the project (2%)||€600|
Use of Budget
More of 80% of the budget will be used to the actual project, which is the development of the serological test to be able to diagnose infection with EEHV and development of an effective vaccine against EEHV. The laboratory work includes producing the protein in large quantities and purification of the protein. Subsequently the protein will be used to develop a reliable test to detect antibodies against the virus in blood of elephants. In addition, work will be done to produce and test an effective candidate vaccine against EEHV. The budget will also cover indirect costs that are crucial to perform the proposed work, which include maintenance of equipment relevant to execute the project, overhead, and meetings that are necessary to manage the project and discuss results and further steps forward. The work will start as soon as 80% of the requested funding is achieved. The duration of the project is envisioned to be 3 years.
Our researchers will share the outcomes of the experiment directly with the backer who signed in for this particular newsletter. The outcomes of this project will be published in the form of peer-reviewed journal publication, open data sets, graduate theses, academic posters, and more.
Artemis One Health Research Foundation depends to a great extent on the support and generosity of donors for the success of our research projects. To guarantee that more than 80% of the donations goes to research, we need another source of funding to cover the salary for a technician to do the work. For this specific project we are seeking support for one technician for the duration of 3 years. The costs for personnel are estimated at 43,940 euro per year. Note that such a technician can be used for max three of the project lines of Artemis. In the face of lack of support for personnel, we will cover the personnel costs from own investments. However as a foundation relying on donations for specific programs we will appreciate your generosity to help us cover the personnel cost of this project. Are you a strong believer in our mission and do you/your organization want to support us in this fight, please feel free to contact our head Research & Development, Dr. Byron Martina by email firstname.lastname@example.org or office phone +31 (0)30 635 5444.
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