The aims are to generate knowledge and methodologies on HEV, Anellovirus and EMCV strains circulating in pigs, and on TBEV mainly in relation to goat milk transmission. The main objectives are to:
<UL> <LI> harmonise molecular methods, including RealTime PCR and Q-PCR assays, to detect and characterize these viruses in animals and food;
<LI> increase understanding on the epidemiology and zoonotic role of these pathogens;
<LI>implement a virus and genome database;
<LI> clone and express viral proteins and generate immune reagents for virus diagnosis and typing;
<LI>implement serological assays for TBEV;
<LI>develop Immuno-hystochemistry (IHC) and In-situ hybridization (ISH) methods for swine virus detection in cell cultures or tissues.
An inventory of virological and epidemiological tools, protocols and materials available at present in the partner laboratories has been compiled, that will enable harmonisation and implementation of methods within the group throughout the study. Preliminary work has generated cDNA clones for expression of viral proteins in cell cultures. The production of soluble proteins or virus-like particles (VLPs) is currently being monitored. In addition, initial data is now available on the presence of swine viruses in different countries using molecular diagnostics.<P> Some DNA sequences from field viral strains are now available and will be used to build up a common database. A TBEV-specific ELISA detection system for goat sera has been initiated, and validation of this test is ongoing. Discussions on the exchange and integration of activities for HEV diagnostics and characterization, with the EVENT network, are in progress. Preliminary validation of quantitative PCR (Q-PCR) protocols for swine HEV has also been initiated. <P>A PhD student, funded jointly by the institute partner, ISS, and Med-Vet-Net, has started training in methods for genome manipulation, cloning and expression.