Monoclonal antibodies, developed in IZS, will enable a more efficient diagnosis of a viral disease that mainly affects deer, but which can also attack cattle, damaging milk production



Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is a viral disease originally identified in some species of deer in North America. In recent years, outbreaks have been reported in some Arab Mediterranean Countries. Its introduction in Europe, therefore, is a potential danger, requiring rapid and efficient methods of identification and surveillance. To date, no cases have yet been recorded in European Countries, so the disease can be considered exotic.


In the framework of the institutional tasks assigned to the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale of Teramo as Reference Center for Exotic Diseases (CESME), researchers developed a novel diagnostic method, the preliminary results of which have been published in the journal Monoclonal Antibodies in Immunodiagnosis and Immunotherapy. The method is based on new monoclonal antibodies capable of recognizing a specific protein of the virus responsible for the disease (EDHV). In this way it will be possible to carry out reliable laboratory tests, enabling a rapid identification of its possible presence in wild or farm animals.


"Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease - explains Mirella Luciani, of the Department of Immunology and Serology, co-author of the paper - does not constitute any danger to humans. It mainly affects some species of deer, in which it can be particularly severe with mortality rates of up to 90% for white-tailed deer. Occasionally, however, it can also be a problem for cattle, in which the symptoms are much milder and mortality very rare, but in these cases there may be a significant drop in milk production, with consequent economic damage".


The EDHV virus is transmitted through the bite of insects of the genus Culicoides, the same that can transmit two other viruses: bluetongue, which mainly affects sheep, and African horse sickness, which mainly affects horses.“These insects - continues Luciani - are present in Europe. They are responsible, as an example, for the bluetongue outbreaks that affected in past years sheep farms in Italy, especially in Sardinia. So we are faced with the same infectious cycle and the same ecological niche. It means that the introduction in Europe of the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease virus is a concrete possibility. For this reason, we developed a panel of monoclonal antibodies that could represent a valid support for the early diagnosis of the disease".


Mirella Luciani
Mirella Luciani


Armillotta G, Di Febo T, Ulisse S, Laguardia C, Iorio M, Krasteva I, Tittarelli M, Mercante MT, Luciani M. Production and Characterization of Monoclonal Antibodies Against the VP7 Protein of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus. Monoclon Antib Immunodiagn Immunother. 2022 Aug;41(4):181-187.


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