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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Exotic & Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research » Research » Research Project #431882

Research Project: Intervention Strategies to Prevent and Control Disease Outbreaks Caused by Emerging Strains of Avian Influenza Viruses

Location: Exotic & Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research

Project Number: 6040-32000-066-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2016
End Date: Sep 30, 2021

This in-house project has four general objectives, each of which is broken into sub-objectives: 1. Conduct studies to understand avian influenza viruses evolution and population dynamics, including the characterization of variant and emerging avian influenza viruses in live poultry markets and commercial production systems, and exploring the impact of variable host susceptibility on avian influenza virus persistence in different ecosystems. 1.1. Characterize new and variant avian influenza virus (AIV) isolates. 1.2. Investigate selection for AIV antigenic variation. 2. Elucidate the host-pathogen interactions of avian influenza virus infections, including determining the role of mutations at receptor binding sites on replication and pathogenesis, especially which mutations are important in changing host specificity, identifying molecular determinants of tissue tropism, and identifying molecular determinants of virulence in target animal species. 2.1. Identify genetic markers for AIV adaptation and/or increased virulence in different avian species. 2.2 Investigate host-specific factors associated with infectivity, pathogenicity and transmissibility of current and emerging AIV. 3. Conduct comparative immunology studies of avian species to determine variations in protective host defense mechanisms to avian influenza infections, including determining the innate and adaptive immune response to influenza virus infection in different avian species that are either susceptible, tolerant, or resistant to infection, and determining the contribution of host genetics on innate protection and other novel methods for disease resistance. 3.1. Identify innate defense mechanisms associated with disease resistance to AIV. 3.2. Characterize humoral responses to AIV and identify epitopes associated with adaptive immunity. 3.3. Improve resistance against AIV infections in poultry. 4. Develop intervention strategies to effectively control avian influenza viruses and contain disease outbreaks, including identifying risk factors in poultry production that favor transmission and spread of avian influenza viruses, improving existing diagnostic tests and testing strategies for avian influenza virus surveillance, detection, and recovery from disease outbreaks, developing new vaccine platforms designed to rapidly control and prevent avian influenza virus outbreaks in the various components of poultry production, and characterizing new or emerging poultry disease pathogens to evaluate potential impact on the U.S. poultry industry. 4.1. Maintain, update and improve diagnostic tests for avian influenza. 4.2. Evaluate vaccine strategies to better control and prevent avian influenza virus outbreaks.

These four objectives include a combination of basic and applied research that will generate knowledge and help develop tools to improve our ability to prevent and control avian influenza virus (AIV). These research goals are highly interrelated and will be accomplished with similar tools and approaches. thus, experiments will often contribute to more than one objective. The first objective includes the characterization of new strains of AIV which constantly emerge in nature as well as the elucidation of how the virus changes under immune pressure using an experimental approach. The second objective complements the first with a more in-depth focus on the specific viral and host factors that contribute to host adaptation, transmission and virulence. The third objective aims to improve our understanding of the avian immune response to AIV infection and vaccination in key poultry species. The fourth objective will improve current practical intervention strategies including diagnostics and vaccines.