Characterization of Recently Discovered Liver-tropic Viruses in Horses

Principal Investigator: Bud Tennant

Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences
Sponsor: Rockefeller University (USDA-NIFA)
Grant Number: 2016-67015-24765
Title: Characterization of Recently Discovered Liver-tropic Viruses in Horses
Project Amount: $281,426
Project Period: February 2016 to February 2017

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): 

Rockefeller University, in collaboration with Columbia University and Cornell University is preparing a grant application to study the pathogenesis of the Non-Primate Hepacivirus (NPHV) and the Theiler’s Disease Associated Virus (TDAV) two recently identified, blood borne viruses of horses. Work currently being conducted at Cornell that is relevant to research proposed in this grant application includes 1.) further development and validation of RT qPCR assays for TDAV and NPHV, 2.) expression of TDAV antigens and development of assays to detect TDAV antibodies in serum 3.) seroepidemiological studies of the prevalence of TDAV infection in the North American horse population and 4.) determination of the frequency of TDAV infection is associated with equine serum hepatitis (Theiler’s disease) in a prospective case control study.

Cornell’s direct contribution to the work outlined in the current grant application will be 1.) to study the clinical, biochemical and virological responses to infection following intrahepatic transfection of expressed NPHV and TDAV RNAs, 2.) compare the response following transfection of expressed NPHV or TDAV RNA with that following conventional parenteral inoculation of acute phase serum obtained following intrahepatic transfection with expressed NPHV or TDAV RNA, and 3.) to work closely with Dr. Rice’s group to develop primary equine hepatocyte cell cultures and equine cell lines for cultivation of NPHV and TDAV. In the case control study already initiated, cases have been identified that have not been associated with NPHV or TDAV infection and will be candidates for high throughput sequencing to identify other etiologic agents or NPHV or TDAV strains not identified with currently used molecular or serologic methods.