Dr Francois Maree | A.R.C. O.V.I. Transboundary Animal Diseases Programmed

Dr Francois Maree, , A.R.C. O.V.I. Transboundary Animal Diseases Programmed

Francois worked on foot-and-mouth disease virus for the last 13 years. His research focuses on studies to improve FMD vaccines using recombinant DNA technologies and can be described as the structural design of vaccines.  These novel vaccines to FMD are aimed at improving the control of FMD in endemic regions. In a collaborative venture with PIADC and Intervet, his team has developed infectious clones for the SAT serotypes in southern Africa. The clones were manipulated by exchanging gene regions and investigating the effect on cell entry and virus replication. The chimeric viruses were also studied in terms of the protection elicited in animals and the potential for use as vaccines. Putative antigenic regions were mapped using antigenic differences across the genotypes and these were mutated in the genome-length clones and the effect on antigenicity of the viable viruses measured. Using reverse genetics technology and structural data, we have in collaboration with structural biologists in Oxford identified amino acids involved in capsid stability. Predicted residues were mutated and led to the identification of a virus that is more stable than its wild type. This virus is currently being implemented as a new vaccine seed stock at the ARC.  His team is also using phage display to obtain recombinant antibodies or single chain variable fragments that are used to map antigenic sites and for the development of improved diagnostic assays.

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