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CEEZAD

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The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) at Kansas State University was established in 2010 to help protect the nation’s agricultural and public health sectors against high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats. CEEZAD has four principal missions:

  • Development of novel, safe, efficacious and DIVA-compatible vaccines for prevention and control of high-impact emerging and zoonotic diseases that can be manufactured in the U.S.
  • Development and expansion of technologies and platforms for laboratory and point-of-need pathogen detection.
  • Development of models to predict high-consequence disease behavior in the U.S. to aid prevention or outbreak control.
  • Development of education and training programs for students, veterinarians, first responders and researchers in high-impact animal diseases and animal emergencies.

News/Events Highlights

October 26, 2017

CEEZAD Representative Speaks as Part of Tallgrass Taphouse Series

sabarish article photo
CEEZAD’s role in fighting transboundary animal diseases was the focus of a recent presentation that was part of the Science on Tap series.

Sabarish Indran, a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Juergen Richt, CEEZAD’s director, delivered the presentation to an audience of about 70 people at the Tallgrass Taphouse. The series brings people who are interested in science together weekly for discussions over dinner and drinks. The series is sponsored by Sunset Zoo’s Behind The Science initiative.

Dr. Indran specializes in the study of Rift Valley Fever. In his presentation, however, he focused on the broader topic of transboundary diseases in general. Transboundary diseases are those whose threat extends beyond the borders of any single nation.

He noted that CEEZAD scientists study the causes of disease and the methods by which a disease responds to its host. Central questions concern how movement of a disease can be slowed or prevented, how diseases can be identified and understood, and current movement trends.

He told his audience that three-quarters of all human diseases identified within the past decade were zoonotic in nature, meaning they came from animals. 


October 10, 2017

CEEZAD’s Deputy Director to Headline World Conference in Niger

 

The deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) will deliver the keynote address at the inaugural Scientific Days conference of the Center of Medical and Sanitary Research Nov. 14-16 in Niamey, the capital of Niger.

Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez, a physician and researcher, will speak Nov. 16 on the topic, “One Health: Back To The Future.” It is a highlight of the international conference that is being organized around the theme, “From the great endemics of yesterday to the emerging diseases of today.” He will also chair a conference session titled “One Health.”

“One Health” is a term used by those in medical-related fields to note the inter-relationships between human medical, veterinary medical and environmental health fields.

The conference is being hosted by the Center For Medical and Health Research. Representatives of research centers from around the world, including the International Network of the Pasteur Institute, will be taking part in the three-day event. Dr. Gonzalez worked in various capacities at the Pasteur Institute for a decade prior to joining CEEZAD.


October 6, 2017

Life in the Gobi Desert

 

Cover Page

 

The search for zoonotic diseases can take researchers from the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases to some exotic locales. Few, however, are likely to be more exotic, or more challenging, than the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Dr. Juergen Richt, director of CEEZAD, spent several days there in September as part of a team of veterinary scientists researching the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Rift Valley Fever and various swine diseases. Working with a group that also included Mongolian scientists, their mission was to track the spread of those diseases through the indigenous camel population as well as the wild and domestic pig populations. The researchers spent most of their time at a site six hours south of Ulaanbaatar, the nation’s capital city, close to the Gobi Desert, where daytime summer temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. There they collected blood samples from about 50 Bactrian camels and about 40 head of cattle in an effort to ascertain the presence of MERS in camels or Rift Valley Fever in camels and cattle.  “The challenge is to find and catch” the camels, Dr. Richt said. “They belong to nomadic farmers.” He said the local veterinarians are able to guide them to the camels.The search for zoonotic diseases can take researchers from the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases to some exotic locales. Few, however, are likely to be more exotic, or more challenging, than the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.

Dr. Juergen Richt, director of CEEZAD, spent several days there in September as part of a team of veterinary scientists researching the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Rift Valley Fever and various swine diseases. Working with a group that also included Mongolian scientists, their mission was to track the spread of those diseases through the indigenous camel population as well as the wild and domestic pig populations.

The researchers spent most of their time at a site six hours south of Ulaanbaatar, the nation’s capital city, close to the Gobi Desert, where daytime summer temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. There they collected blood samples from about 50 Bactrian camels and about 40 head of cattle in an effort to ascertain the presence of MERS in camels or Rift Valley Fever in camels and cattle.

“The challenge is to find and catch” the camels, Dr. Richt said. “They belong to nomadic farmers.” He said the local veterinarians are able to guide them to the camels.

Life in Gobi Desert 2

The second challenge is keeping the samples cool in the hot desert environment before returning to the laboratory.

MERS, a viral respiratory disease, was discovered in Saudi Arabia about five years ago and has since spread to several other countries. It can cause serious complications in humans, and in some cases death. The disease appears to be spread to humans by contact with infected camels. In Mongolia, the research team collected samples from about 50 camels. Those samples suggested the presence of MERS antibodies among the camels, although that suggestion is still being confirmed by additional laboratory testing.

Tests for Rift Valley Fever in camels and cattle were negative.

Additionally, the team spent a day working in a farming area north of Ulaanbaatar in an effort to ascertain whether either Classical Swine Fever (CSFV), Swine Influenza Virus (SIV) or African Swine Fever (ASF) had spread to that region’s pig populations. The potential spread of ASF is of particular concern because the disease, which is often fatal to swine, has spread in recent months from the European portion of Russia into the Asian portion of Russia. Geographically, Mongolia is directly between Russia and China, which has one of the largest populations of pigs in the world. If ASF were to infect the Mongolian population of pigs and then spread through Mongolia to China, the consequences for the world’s food supply could be significant. The testing is still ongoing, although testing for Swine Influenza Virus was negative.

In addition to Dr. Richt, the research team was led by Dr. Batsukh Zayat, of the Institute of Veterinary Medicine in Ulaanbaatar.  

Photos courtesy of Paul Cox.


September 1, 2017

CEEZAD Deputy Director Authors Article on Meningococcal Disease in Ukraine

 

An article co-authored by the deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases was recently published by Intech, the world’s largest science, technology and medicine open access book publisher.

Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez wrote the article, on Meningococcal disease in Ukraine, in association with Hennadi Mokhort and Sergey Kramarev.

Meningococcal disease in Ukraine represents an important cause of mortality mostly among children less than five years old. The study illustrates the advancement in understanding of Meningococcal epidemiology across the national level by using20 years of data provided by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. This data includes: demography (census); disease incidence from 1973 to 2015; Meningococcal disease mortality; demographic data (sex, age, leaving area/city/village); Comparative etiology of purulent meningitis; serogroups of invasive meningococcal disease; carriers prevalence; a set of clinical data (meningitis, meningococcemia, nasopharyngitis, etc.); and a set of environmental data (season, etc.).

The dynamic of the disease is described for the past 20-year period including incidence, prevalence, spatial distribution, seasonality, and risk factors. Existing state-of-the-art meningococcal infection epidemiology is presented for all of the country. Ultimately, time series analysis of record and spatial distribution over such a long period of time supported the development of original construct of various models encompassing risk and vulnerability, and ways to improve epidemiological surveillance, and develop vaccination strategies in country.

Mokhort is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Bogomolets National Medical University in Kiev, Ukraine. Kramarev is affiliated with the Ministry of Health in Kiev, Ukraine.


September 1, 2017

CEEZAD Director Plays Active Role at World Veterinary Congress

 

The director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) played an active role at the 33rd World Veterinary Congress in Incheon, South Korea.

Dr. Jürgen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University, chaired a session on porcine medicine that featured presentations on vaccination, emerging infections, oral fluid sampling and swine enteric coronaviruses. The conference was held Aug. 27-31 at the Incheon Songdo exhibition hall, Incheon, South Korea.

In addition to chairing the session, he gave three 45 minutes presentations as summarized below

CEEZAD’s Purpose

During his presentation on CEEZAD, Dr. Richt told participants of its creation in 2010 to help protect the nation’s agricultural and public health sectors against high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats.  CEEZAD is headquartered at Kansas State University in Manhattan KS. The university is part of the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor and houses the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Biosecurity Research Institute. It is also adjacent to the site for the Department of Homeland Security’s premier animal research facility, the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, under construction.

Richt noted that CEEZAD has four principal missions:

  • Development of novel, safe, efficacious and DIVA-compatible vaccines - for prevention and control of high-impact emerging and zoonotic diseases - that can be manufactured in the U.S.
  • Development and expansion of technologies and platforms for laboratory and point-of-need pathogen detection.
  • Development of models to predict high-consequence disease behavior in the U.S. to aid prevention or outbreak control.
  • Development of education and training programs for students, veterinarians, first responders and researchers in high-impact animal diseases and animal emergencies.

He told conference attendees that CEEZAD funds scientists specializing in animal health, public health, education, diagnostics, therapy and vaccinology. In this way, CEEZAD is enhancing the resilience of the U.S. pre-harvest agricultural system through investigator-directed research. CEEZAD-funded and coordinated research is conducted at more than 15 U.S. and international universities as well as governmental agencies and industry partners. He also outlined two CEEZAD projects, one on point of need diagnostics, and the other on the development of a recombinant Newcastle disease virus-vectored Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) vaccine for poultry. The NDV-vectored vaccine, for possible use in future HPAI outbreaks, provides excellent protection in live and inactivated vaccine forms, and via practical mass application.


September 1, 2017

African Swine Fever Research

 

During his presentation on CEEZAD’s research into African Swine Fever virus (ASFV), he said the study was designed to evaluate the immune response of pigs to various ASFV antigens including recombinant proteins and cDNA constructs, using a heterologous prime-boost vaccination approach. The ASFV genes encoding the structural proteins p15, p35, p54, CD2v (CD2-like)were synthesized based on the ASFV isolate Georgia/2007 and the respective recombinant proteins were expressed in a baculovirus or E.coli expression system.

The cDNAs were cloned into pcDNA3.1 expression vector and included the p72, p32, CP312R and CD2v genes. Three-week old piglets were used for the immunogenicity study. The vaccination groups consisted of a combination of different recombinant proteins and plasmid DNAs. The piglets were inoculated intramuscularly with 100μg of recombinant protein mixed with ISA25 adjuvant and 100μg of plasmid DNA.

Piglets were inoculated three times at two-week intervals and euthanized one week after the last immunization. Blood collection was carried out on the day of vaccination and at the time of euthanasia. ASFV-specific antibody responses in serum of immunized pigs were evaluated using ELISA, western blot and virus neutralization tests.

The results of ELISA and western blot showed that antibodies were induced against each recombinant protein. In virus neutralization assays, neutralizing activity was found mainly in sera from pigs immunized with structural ASFV proteins; in some cases the neutralizing activity was increased by combination with cDNA plasmids especially cDNA for p72 and CD2v. Pigs immunized three times with ASFV p15, p35 and p54 proteins in combination with cDNA plasmids CD2v, p72 and p32 were selected for challenge with virulent Armenia 2007 virus. Challenge was done in BSL-3Ag biocontainment and 5 age controlled animals served as challenge controls.

Neither the vaccinated nor the mock-vaccinated animals were protected against virulent ASFV challenge. Richt said these results will guide CEEZAD in its efforts to develop a potential vaccine against ASF.


September 1, 2017

Rift Valley Fever Research

 

During his presentation on Rift Valley Fever virus (RVFV), he noted that it is a mosquito-borne zoonotic pathogen causing serious morbidity and mortality in livestock and humans in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Richt said the virus also has great potential for transboundary spread due to the presence of competent vectors in non-endemic areas. There is currently no fully licensed vaccine suitable for use in livestock or humans outside endemic areas.

He reported on CEEZAD’s evaluation of the efficacy of a recombinant subunit vaccine based on the RVFV Gn and Gc glycoproteins. RVFV structural proteins, amino-terminus glycoprotein Gn and carboxyl-terminus glycoprotein Gc, were expressed using a recombinant baculovirus expression system. The vaccine elicited strong virus neutralizing antibody responses in sheep and was DIVA (differentiating naturally infected from vaccinated animals) compatible.

In a sheep efficacy study, animals were vaccinated subcutaneously with the glycoprotein-based subunit vaccine candidate and then subjected to heterologous challenge with the virulent Kenya-128B-15 RVFV strain. The vaccine elicited high virus neutralizing antibody titers and conferred complete protection in all vaccinated sheep, as evidenced by prevention of viremia, fever and absence of RVFV-associated histopathological lesions. Richt said CEEZAD researchers concluded that the subunit vaccine platform represents a promising strategy for the prevention and control of RVFV infections in susceptible hosts.


September 1, 2017

Kansas City Group Hears CEEZAD Official on Fighting Spread of Diseases from Africa

 

The deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases outlined he challenges facing efforts to combat viral zoonotic diseases in Africa before a group of health professionals in Kansas City recently.

Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez spoke to an Aug. 27-28 meeting of One Health Innovations. He focused his talk on biosurveillance strategies for dealing with emerging diseases in Africa. His presentation was based on material prepared jointly by Dr. Gonzalez and by Dr. Juergen Richt, director of CEEZAD.

Dr. Gonzalez outlined three particular challenges and goals for those attempting to thwart the movement of viral zoonotic diseases both into and out of Africa. Those challenges are: to be part of a global framework; the relative absence of early warning systems, lab networks, capacity-building and health systems; and individual national characteristics that can modulate preparedness and response.

Specifically, he underscored the need for early point-of-need detection, involving PCR detection platforms. To that end, he acquainted attendees with ongoing efforts at CEEZAD to perfect and market a portable PCR detection platform capable of producing results within one hour.

He also discussed the need for broader access to a portable RNA and DNA sequencing device improving sample-to-answer times.

Among specific outbreaks discussed by Dr. Gonzalez were:

*The 2014 emergence of Ebola virus in Guinea and Sierra Leone in West Africa. He noted that hundreds of cases presented in those countries and also in the Democratic Republic of Congo, many in regions where times required to reach a health facility were measured in hours rather than minutes.

*The 2015 emergence in Nigeria and subsequent spread of Avian influenza. He noted that the World Health Organization has found that various influenza subtypes continue to be detected in birds in Africa, Europe and Asia, some containing the potential to cause disease in humans.

*The challenges posed by recent outbreaks in Africa of Rift Valley Fever virus, monkeypox, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, anthrax and Brucella.

*The potential risk of a pandemic incident involving a disease emerging from Africa, and the need for increased transborder protection measures.


July 24, 2017

CEEZAD Conducts Annual Summer Training Program at KSU

 

Ten students in veterinary medicine and various areas of infectious disease research took part in the 2017 BSL-3 Training / Transboundary Animal Diseases Summer Program sponsored by the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) June 12-21.  The program is funded by the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate.

The Summer Program is an annual exercise in which CEEZAD gathers experts in the fields of biosecurity, pathobiology, virology, high-containment research and related fields in order to prepare promising students who are interested in infectious animal disease research.  The sessions took place at the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University. The program also featured visits to various businesses within the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

Students cite preparing for a career working with infectious agents and zoonotic diseases as major reasons for participating in the CEEZAD program.  

Here are brief biographical sketches of the student participants:

Christal Clements (DVM, BS, Animal Sciences, Tuskegee University)

• Current program: Combined Clinical Microbiology Residency/PhD student, Washington State University

• Research: Anaplasma phagocytophilum

Jim Duehr (BA, Biological Sciences, The College at the University of Chicago)

• Current program: PhD student, Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai;

• Research: Generation of novel antibody reagents against Hanta- and Ebolaviruses

• Goals: “I want to do a post-doc, probably in high-containment research.”

Melissa Dulcey (DVM, Washington State University; BS, Biology, Animal Science, University of Nevada)

• Current program: PhD student, Public Health, One Health Concentration, University of Florida

• Research: Bacterial pathogenesis – Shigella and Chlamydia

Michael Fink (DVM, BA, Communication and Psychology, University of Missouri)

• Current program: Combined Comparative Medicine Residency/PhD student, Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Missouri

• Research: Comparative ophthalmology: investigation of corneal wound healing in humans, dogs and horses; collaborative BSL-3/ABSL-3 containment studies on models of BSL-3 and BSL3-Ag containment.

Andrew Golnar (BS, Biology, University of Denver; MS Entomology, Texas A&M University)

• Current program: PhD student, Entomology, Texas A&M University

• Research: The impacts of parasite interactions on infectious disease dynamics for vector-borne disease transmission.

Elle Holbrook (BS, Environmental Health, Colorado State University)

• Current program: 2nd year DVM student, Colorado State University

• Research: Involved in a project on arbovirus diagnostics and evolution at CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory use whole genome sequencing to characterize the epidemiology of vesicular stomatitis virus in Colorado.

• On the Summer Training Institute: “The hands-on containment training…will make me more comfortable in any future positions I have.”

Joshua Lorbach (DVM, BS, Animal Science, The Ohio State University)

• Current program: Combined Veterinary Pathology Residency (Anatomic)/PhD student, The Ohio State University

• Research: Influenza A virus surveillance and epidemiology at the human-animal interface, including swine and avian species; and mouse models of influenza A virus disease.

• On the Summer Training Institute: “It was an interesting opportunity for us to train and learn about bio-security.”

Alexandra Medley (DVM, The Ohio State University; BA Music, Voice, Oberlin College Conservatory)

• Current program: MPH student, The Ohio State University

• Research: HPAI wild bird surveillance evaluation (USDA CEAH); rabies projects in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Tajikistan

• On veterinary training: “Veterinarians are the most collaborative people…the most supportive.”

Joseph Modarelli (BS, Biomedical Science, Texas A&M University)

• Current program: PhD student, Genetics, Texas A&M University

• Research: (1) Development and application of a canine real-time PCR assay for diagnostic detection of tick-borne pathogens; (2) Surveillance for tick-borne pathogens using multiplex qPCR in brown dog ticks

MaRyka Smith

• Current program: Undergraduate student, Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University; KSU College of Veterinary Medicine Early Admissions Scholar Fall 2018

• Research (Undergraduate Research Assistant): investigation of how Rift Valley Fever virus damages ruminant kidneys: Development of a Silver Methenamine Masson Trichrome (SMMT) stain for use in sheep kidneys.

• On the Summer Training Institute: “I’d never been formally trained in how to work in a bio-safety cabinet, so having he Bio Security Research Institute officers giving us tips and hints was the biggest thing I’ll be taking away.”

 

The students had the opportunity to train for one week at the Biosecurity Research Institute on operational techniques used in BSL-3 and BSL-3 Ag settings.

Among invited speakers contributing their expertise to the program were:

Dr. Alfonso Torres, Cornell University; Dr. Young Lyoo, Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea; Dr. Keith Hamilton, Kansas State University; Cheryl Doerr, Kansas State University; Dr. Chris Detter, MRI Global; Dr. Alan Young, South Dakota State University, Medgene Labs; Dr. Byron Rippke, USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics; Dr. Jonathan Arzt, Plum Island Animal Disease Center; and Dr. Emmie DeWit, NIH, Rocky Mountain Laboratories.

In addition to valuing the BSL-3 training received, students report networking opportunities with invited speakers and other students participants to be valuable experiences from the program.


July 21, 2017

Researcher Undertakes Second Summer of Work on Nanoparticles

 

It’s been a busy and productive year for a Mississippi Valley State University researcher involved with the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases (CEEZAD).

Dr. Matthewos Eshete, an associate professor of chemistry at Mississippi Valley State, is spending this summer right back where he was last year, working in the lab of Dr. Seong-O Choi and Dr. Santosh Aryal at Kansas State University. He is continuing his researcher into the binding interactions between proteins and biodegradable nanoparticles via a follow-up award to work he was involved with last summer using a Department of Homeland Security grant. CEEZAD sponsored Eshete’s work both summers through its Minority Serving Institution program.

Biodegradable nanoparticles are polymers containing great potential in developing therapeutic molecules such as vaccines and drugs to target cells. A nanoparticle is defined as being between one billionth of a meter and 10 millionths of a meter in size. The study of nanoparticles is playing a major role in the advancement of modern medicine because their interaction with proteins is consequential for drug delivery and the immune system.

Following his experience last summer, Dr. Eshete, who is a chemistry professor at MVSU, returned to his classroom where he was able to apply the lessons learned during that summer work. He also presented findings from his research to the Mississippi Academy of Science in February, and to the 2nd Global Nanotechnology Conference in Las Vegas in December.

“It was a good review,” he said of his published finding, which is titled, “Interaction of Immune System Protein With Pegylated and Unpegylated Polymeric Nanoparticles.” In addition to Dr. Eshete, the co-authors include Kayla Bailey, an MVSU student who joined him during his 2016 summer research, Dr. Choi, Dr. Aryal, and Tuyen Nguyen. It has been accepted for publication in Volume 6 of Advances in Nanoparticles, a peer-reviewed publication.

This summer at KSU, Dr. Eshete is expanding the work he did last summer, trying to test the efficacy of different modifications. The hope is that one or more of the modifications will hone scientists’ abilities to deliver drug to the affected tissue or cell in the body.” At present, one of the limitations of both drug-delivery and vaccinology-related research is the precision with which the affected tissue or cells are targeted.

Dr. Eshete intends to continue his research when he returns to MVSU in the fall. Moreover He has recruited two students to work on the project with him. He hopes that in addition to answering some of the scientific question, the research project will help rekindle students’ interest in science and technology and prepare them for 21st century work force.