Analytik Jena AG granted approval for two new procedures to detect PRRS virus which were developed together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology

The pandemic disease PRRS (Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome), triggered among pigs by a virus, causes millions of euros worth of economic damage in food production every year. According to estimates, 70–80 percent of all pig farms in Germany are affected by PRRS. The Fraunhofer IZI and Analytik Jena AG have been working together to develop a test procedure that reliably detects the infection.

The infection normally goes unnoticed in pregnant sows, but leads to a shortened pregnancy. Piglets are therefore either stillborn or are born stunted and sick (generally with respiratory diseases), have a weak immune system and die within a few days.

At the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in Leipzig, the unit led by Dr Sebastian Ulbert has already spent several years developing strategies to fight and diagnose the relatively new animal epidemic, which was first detected in the US in 1987.

"In order to develop efficient methods to combat the PRRS virus, not only are vaccines needed: reliable and, above all, differentiating test and diagnosis systems are also required," explains Dr Sebastian Ulbert, Head of the Vaccines Technology unit at the Fraunhofer IZI. "We were able to determine that there is a considerable need on the market most notably for the reliable distinction between the various subtypes of the virus." The different strains of the PRRS virus are widespread around the globe. Identifying the right type is decisive in preparing an effective vaccination and control program.

The Fraunhofer IZI has a competent partner in Analytik Jena AG, particularly thanks to its subsidiary AJ Roboscreen GmbH. They developed the test procedure together, creating a market-ready application.

The test is based on ELISA technology (Enzyme Linked Immuno Assay), which recognizes antibodies that are formed in the serum of pigs due to the infection and makes them visible using enzymatic color reactions.

The test was approved on 28 June after being put through its paces by the authorities. "We are extremely pleased to have received this approval and hope to now make a significant contribution to improving the situation on the farms with our new product," summarizes Awad Osman, Managing Director of AJ Roboscreen GmbH.