Kansas State University Researcher Secures $1M Grant to Combat Global Swine Fever Threat, Aims to Safeguard $57 Billion U.S. Pork Industry

By Trish Svoboda

A researcher from Kansas State University has received new support to combat a global risk to pigs and the swine industry, a sector worth $57 billion in the U.S.

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) has recently granted a $1 million Seeding Solutions Grant to Waithaka Mwangi, an immunology professor in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. This grant will aid his efforts to create safe and quickly deployable vaccines to prevent the African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV).

Elanco Animal Health, the Office of the Vice President for Research at K-State, Kansas State University Innovation Partners, and MEDIAN Diagnostics Inc. have collectively contributed to an investment totaling $2,645,427.

ASFV is a highly infectious and deadly disease that affects pigs and spreads at an alarming rate. Currently, there is no commercially accessible cure or preventative vaccine for this virus. It has been present in Africa for many years, but recently, the virus has begun to make its presence known worldwide.

The potential for outbreaks in the U.S. could have a devastating impact on not just the pork industry, but also other agricultural commodities like corn and soy.

Jasmine Bruno, Ph.D., FFAR scientific program director for Cultivating Thriving Production Systems, said if the virus reaches the U.S., the findings from this research could potentially curb its spread, shield millions of pigs in the U.S., and secure our food supply.

In addition, the research team led by Mwangi is tackling safety issues and production limitations that could pave the way for regulatory bodies to authorize the use of this vaccine.

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