A US foundation has committed $US2 million to fund research on the development of a nucleic acid-based vaccine against equine herpesvirus (EHV).
A formal call for research proposals focused on EHV-1, EHV-3, and EHV-4, with a multivalent or pan-valent approach has been made by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. The $US2 million has been committed for the research by horse owner Dr John Ballantyne and the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation, a nonprofit, community foundation benefiting Cass County, North Dakota, and Clay County, Minnesota.
Ballantyne said he was proud to work with Grayson to support EHV research. “As a horse owner with a biotechnology background, I recognize the danger of EHV and see the potential for nucleic acid-based vaccines for combating this disease.”
EHV-1 is contagious and spread by direct horse-to-horse contact via the respiratory tract through nasal secretions or indirectly through surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Risk factors include large numbers of horses in close quarters and under the stresses of competition and travel.
Nearly a third of horses that contract the neurological form die or are euthanized, and after an outbreak early last year among sport horses in Europe, at least 18 horses died.
Foundation chair Dell Hancock said the research advisory committee looked forward to seeing what proposals are submitted. “This gift will enable Grayson to continue its commitment to funding critical research for horses.”
“We are so grateful to Dr Ballantyne for his generosity in supporting efforts to address EHV, a disease that affects all horses,” Hancock said.
Researchers must have the ability to conduct an in vivo proof of principle of efficacy in the equine model in-house or through collaboration. Applications from established equine investigators collaborating with experts from other fields (e.g., human vaccinologists) are strongly encouraged. It is anticipated that this research will span three to four years and possibly multiple projects.
Grant applications are due on October 1, 2022, and can be submitted at grayson-jockeyclub.org.
Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation is a leading source of private funding for equine medical research that benefits all breeds of horses. Since 1983, the foundation has provided more than $30.6 million to fund 397 projects at 45 universities around the world.