Federal Research Institute for Animal Health
17493 Greifswald - Insel Riems
Research Group Avian Influenza (Dr. Jutta Veits, Dr. Sayed Abd El-Whab, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Thomas C. Mettenleiter)
Our research aims to understand the molecular biology of avian influenza viruses (AIV) as a prerequisite for the development as well as evaluation of vaccines for poultry. One of our main interests is to unravel the genetic basis for adaptation of low pathogenic AIV from the wild bird reservoir to domestic poultry, and for the concomitant increase in pathogenicity. Vaccination against AIV is an essential tool to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the infection, therefore we developed vectored vaccines and evaluated the efficacy of a number of recombinant virus vaccines in birds (e.g.: NDV, HVT, Salmonella or plant AIV-recombinant vaccines). Furthermore, mutations responsible for the immune-escape of AIV from serum neutralization in vaccinated chickens are studied. Using reverse genetic techniques we generate, through reassortment or site-specific mutations, panels of AIVs and characterize them in vitro and in vivo. In vitro, we study the replication kinetics, phenotypic properties, cross-neutralization and protein stability using different primary cultures, cell lines and embryonated chicken eggs. In vivo, we conduct experiments in poultry to study the pathobiology of the generated mutants and evaluate the efficacy of vaccines to protect birds against AIV. All experiments with highly pathogenic AIV are conducted in biosafety level 3+ animal and laboratory facilities.