The disease is caused by one of the most contagious viruses in mammals, affecting cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, and inflicted severe damage on the UK livestock industries during outbreaks in 2001 and 2007.
The five-year Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funded project will bring together researchers from the Universities of St Andrews, Leeds, Edinburgh, Dundee and the Pirbright Institute to improve diagnosis and develop a new generation of vaccines.
Dr Nicola Stonehouse, from the University of Leeds School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, said: "Foot-and-mouth disease is still, especially in this part of the country, a very emotive thing to talk about. However, it is an accident waiting to happen because you have so much of this disease elsewhere in the world. Animals are trafficked across borders and viruses can blow across the Channel."
Professor David Rowlands, Emeritus Professor of Molecular Virology at Leeds, said:"What we are trying to do is understand the basic biology of the virus so we can use that in order to underpin a new approach to a vaccine. This project is a strategic effort getting together leading UK researchers to address this threat."
Existing foot-and-mouth vaccines must be kept refrigerated and require multiple boosters, which makes them very difficult to administer effectively in parts of the world where foot and mouth is endemic, such as Africa. The virus also has a large array of different strains, which makes concocting a suitable vaccine cocktail even more challenging.
Dr Stonehouse said: The different teams involved in this project will be approaching this big problem from various angles. In Leeds, we are particularly interested in the regulatory regions at both ends of the virus genome. They make up about a seventh of the genome and we do not know what they do. The objective is to tamper with these areas and make a very sick version of the virus that will be able to challenge the animals immune response but not produce the disease.
Professor Martin Ryan of the University of St Andrews, who is leading the project, said the researchers will also attempt to use knowledge of how the virus grows in cells to make a new type of virus that could only grow in specially designed helper cells, meaning the virus could not then grow in animals. This would make the use of existing conventional vaccines a much safer process.
Success would stimulate the routine use of vaccine to control foot-and-mouth disease virus around the globe. This would reduce the global incidence of foot-and-mouth disease with enormous economic and social value worldwide, he said.
Professor Terry Jackson of the Pirbright institute, a BBSRC facility that is the only research centre in the UK allowed to handle the virus in its complete form, said: One of humanitys biggest challenges in coming years will be to meet a growing demand for food. Animal diseases have a major impact on the productivity of the livestock industry and safeguarding animal welfare will be a major component of maximising food production.
Steve Clapcote, Jamie Johnston, The Dunhill Medical Trust (Jun 2018), £254,874
Adrian Goldman, MRC (Jun 2018), £98,627
Darren Tomlinson, Michelle Peckham, Megan Wright, BBSRC (Jun 2018), £150,443
Simon Walker, Royal Society (Jun 2018), £337,601
Tom Thirkell, N8 Agrifood (Jun 2018), £14,870
Stephen Muench with Glaxo SmithKline & UCB Celltech, BBSRC Industrial Partnership Award (Apr 2018), £480,225
Steve Clapcote, BBSRC (Apr 2018), £443,072
Helen Miller, Innovate UK (Apr 2018), £999,960
Elisabetta Groppelli, David Rowlands & Stanley Lemon (University of North Carolina), Medical Research Foundation Fellowship (Apr 2018), £293,494
Nikesh Patel, Medical Research Foundation fellowship (Apr 2018), £290,976
Graham Askew with colleagues in Hull and Liverpool, BBSRC (Apr 2018), £150,498
Andrew Macdonald, Neil Ranson & Richard Foster, Kidney Research UK (Apr 2018), £82,821
Jessica Kwok & Ralf Richter, Leverhulme Trust (Apr 2018), £298,273
Julie Aspden, Royal Society (Apr 2018), £20,000
Liz Duncan, Royal Society (Mar 2018), £14,602
Alex O'Neill & Ryan Seipke, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £45,489
Jim Deuchars, Royal Society (Feb 2018), £16,300
Stefan Kepinski & Netta Cohen, Leverhulme Trust (Feb 2018), £320,387
Lisa Collins, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £49,950
Alison Baker, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Lars Jeuken, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Feb 2018), £30,000
Scott Bowen, Leducq Foundation Grant (Feb 2018), £28,470
Jessica Kwok and Ronaldo Ichiyama, International Spinal Research Trust (Feb 2018), £94,450
Alex O'Neill, Oxford Drug Design (Jan 2018), £86,098
Dave Lewis and Colleagues in South Africa, HEFCE Global Challenge Research (Jan 2018), £48,000
Sarah Calaghan, Ed White, John Colyer, Isuru Jayasinghe, BHF (Jan 2018), £128,308
Christine Foyer and Alison Baker, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £71,158
Alison Baker, Yun Yung Gong and Lindsay Stringer and ICRISAT India, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £27,000
Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2017), £18,000
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society-Research Fellows Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £94,681
Helen Miller, AB AGri Grant (Dec 2017), £73,600
Simon Walker, Royal Society Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £10,000
Carrie Ferguson, Bryan Taylor, Harry Rossiter, The Physiological Society (Dec 2017), £7,392
Ralf Richter, Royal Society (Dec 2017), £6,000
Christine Foyer, British Council Newton Fund (Dec 2017), £49,840
Adrian Whitehouse and colleagues in School of Chemistry and University of Liverpool, MRC (Nov 2017), £622,319
Michelle Peckham, Neil Ransom, MRC (Nov 2017), £495,159
Dave Lewis, British Council India (Nov 2017), £22,540
Elton Zeqiraj, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Shaunna Burke, Cancer Research UK Innovation Grant (Nov 2017), £20,000
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
Neil Ranson, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £494,318
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
Jamie Johnston, Physiological Society (Sep 2017), £10,000
Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000