Rapid-Response Vaccines Against RNA Viruses (RFT-539)

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Invention Summary

Scientists at NDSU have developed a method to rapidly produce safe and efficacious vaccines against emerging RNA viruses.  This is accomplished by destroying the RNA genome (so replication is diminished) while maintaining the structural integrity of the capsid (so that antibodies recognize the native virus). Therefore, NDSU’s method has the combined advantages of inactivated (safety) and attenuated (efficacy) vaccines. It is also fast to develop, with vaccine being ready for cell-based production within approximately 3 – 4 weeks.  The method has been demonstrated as effective using porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) and is being tested on influenza, and is applicable to other human and animal RNA viruses.

PEDV is an RNA virus which emerged in the U.S in 2013 and spread extremely quickly to all the major swine production states, caused the death of a quarter of the U.S. swine population, and an industry loss of $540 million; making it an excellent example of an RNA virus where rapid response was needed.  The NDSU rapid response vaccine technology was developed using PEDV as a model. Three-week-old pigs were administered the experimental vaccine produced using the NDSU method, and then challenged with virulent virus.  The challenge virus was not detected in fecal matter of any of the vaccinated pigs and no microscopic or immunohistochemistry lesions were detected in intestinal, heart, spleen or lung tissues in vaccinated pigs, indicating 100% protection was elicited by vaccination. Thus, the NDSU vaccine development approach was both safe and highly effective. 

Table: Comparison of NDSU Rapid Response method with conventional vaccine production

 Vaccine development approach

Time for development after first isolation and culture   Vaccine Efficacy Vaccine Safety       
 NDSU Rapid Response Method  Very Rapid, 3 to 4 weeks  Very Effective  Very Safe        
 Conventional  Inactivated/Killed  Rapid, Weeks to Months  Usually Inadequate  Very Safe        
 Conventional Attenuated/Live  Long, Months to Years  More effective than inactivated  Inconsistent        


  • Allows rapid preparation of a vaccine within weeks, in response to a new outbreak or re-emergence of a mutated strain of virus
  • Maintains integrity of the viral capsid so antibodies elicited from vaccination will be more effective against the native virus
  • Destroys genetic material of the virus, thereby greatly reducing its infectious capability, and providing a high safety margin
  • Oral vaccine, easiest route of administration for livestock


This technology is patent pending in the U.S. and is available for licensing/partnering opportunities.


Henry Nowak, Technology Manager


RFT, 539, RFT539

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