HomeResearch projectsProjects Call 2015 (ARIMNet2)AVIAMED

AVIAMED - AVIan viral disease prevention and control with plant vaccines for the MEDiterranean area


Selene Baschieri, Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, Italy
  • Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, Italy
  • Agricultural Genetic Engineering Research Institute, Agricultural Research Center, Egypt
  • Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II, Morocco
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Morocco


Infectious Bursal Disease, Newcastle Disease, Plant biofactories, Innovative vaccines, Discrimination of vaccinated from infected animals (DIVA)


Emergence and re-emergence of infectious viral poultry diseases remain an important challenge to both productivity and public health especially in the Mediterranean basin. Vaccines are regarded as the most beneficial interventions to prevent this kind of infections. Although most of the vaccines are still based on whole pathogens, many novel vaccine candidates, based only on those pathogen components (antigens) that are critical to initiate protective immune responses, are currently under development. The challenge for these new formulations is to mimic infection by stimulating a complete immune response (innate and adaptive, humoral- and cell-mediated) with minimal morbidity and low production costs. 

Infectious Bursal disease virus (IBDV) and Newcastle disease virus (NDV) are the cause of economically important diseases of poultry in Morocco, Egypt and also Southern Europe Mediterranean countries. The aim of the present project is to use plants as “biofactories” for the transient and stable expression of IBDV and NDV antigens both in their native forms or as fusion to: i) the fragment crystallizable region of chicken IgY immunoglobulins or to ii) the coat protein of the plant virus Potato virus X. The transiently and the stably expressed antigens will be used to: i) evaluate the type of immune response they activate by performing immunization trials through subcutaneous/intramuscular, and mucosal/oral routes; ii) evaluate the efficacy of the selected prototype vaccines in terms of clinical protection and virus shedding following experimental challenge; iii) set up novel diagnostic assays. 
The plant “biofactory” approach has the potential to result in: i) ease and rapidity of production scale up at low costs due to the use of plants as expression systems; ii) simplification of the purification procedures; iii) improvement of the immunogenic properties of the antigens obtained by self-assembly in multimeric subviral particles/virus-like particles or by the proposed innovative fusion strategies; iv) development of low-cost and ready to use diagnostic tools able to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA) in surveillance programs and international trade of poultry and poultry products. 
AVIAMED will gather together 3 different countries: Italy, as coordinator, Morocco and Egypt. Five research teams will be involved with complementary competences on molecular farming (transient expression of antigens in Nicotiana benthamiana, ENEA-Italy; maize stable transformation, INRA-Morocco and AGERI-Egypt), testing of veterinary vaccine prototypes efficacy (NDV, IZSVe-Italy; IBDV, IAV-Morocco) and development of novel diagnostic tools (ENEA and IZSVe-Italy). 
The AVIAMED proposal brings together high-level expertise in diverse scientific domains establishing a strong interconnection and know-how transfer between EU and non EU participants in the Mediterranean region










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Acknowledgements: ARIMNet (2008-2013) and ARIMNet2 (2014-2017) are ERA-NETs coordinated by INRA (France).
They have received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreements no. 219262 (ARIMNet) and no. 618127 (ARIMNet2)

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