Chimeric foot-and-mouth disease viruses (FMDV) of which the antigenic properties can be readily manipulated is a potentially powerful approach in the control of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in sub-Saharan Africa. FMD vaccine application is complicated by the extensive variability of the South African Territories (SAT) type viruses, which exist as distinct genetic and antigenic variants in different geographical regions. A cross-serotype chimeric virus, vKNP/SAT2, was engineered by replacing the external capsid-encoding region (1B-1D/2A) of an infectious cDNA clone of the SAT2 vaccine strain, ZIM/7/83, with that of SAT1 virus KNP/196/91. The vKNP/SAT2 virus exhibited comparable infection kinetics, virion stability and antigenic profiles to the KNP/196/91 parental virus, thus indicating that the functions provided by the capsid can be readily exchanged between serotypes. As these qualities are necessary for vaccine manufacturing, high titres of stable chimeric virus were obtained. Chemically inactivated vaccines, formulated as double-oil-in-water emulsions, were produced from intact 146S virion particles of both the chimeric and parental viruses. Inoculation of guinea pigs with the respective vaccines induced similar antibody responses. In order to show compliance with commercial vaccine requirements, the vaccines were evaluated in a full potency test. Pigs vaccinated with the chimeric vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies and showed protection against homologous FMDV challenge, albeit not to the same extent as for the vaccine prepared from the parental virus. These results provide support that chimeric vaccines containing the external capsid of field isolates can be successfully produced and that they induce protective immune responses in FMD host species.


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