Developing innovative solutions for emerging infectious diseases

For forty years the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) has developed innovative solutions to solve infectious disease challenges facing Canada and the world. Recognized as a world leader in vaccine development, the organization’s 160 member multidisciplinary team conducts research aimed at protecting human and animal health. This has resulted in eight commercially successful vaccines, the development of new platform technologies, and several vaccines currently in pre-clinical and clinical development. 

Every year new infectious diseases emerge with the potential to devastate health and cause economic loss. To remain at the forefront of vaccine research, VIDO-InterVac works with partner organizations regularly to ensure needs are met.  One recent example is the organization’s work with swine producers to combat Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDV), a virus that can cause up to 100 per cent mortality in piglets under three weeks of age. Found in parts of Europe and endemic in Asia, PEDV was first reported in the United States in May 2013 with Canada’s first confirmed case in early 2014. The virus is a significant threat to the swine industry. It is in the same family as the viruses that cause Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and is extremely hardy, virulent and can spread quickly. In one year it killed an estimated seven million pigs in the US and reportedly reduced total annual pork output by 5-11 per cent in 2014. To date Canada has been able to contain in outbreaks in several provinces (i.e., Ontario, Manitoba, PEI and Quebec). Saskatchewan has remained disease free, but the disease can easily spread.  An efficacious vaccine is one way to reduce this risk.

In 2013, before the first Canadian case, VIDO-InterVac initiated a vaccine development project with support received from the Government of Saskatchewan. Utilizing VIDO-InterVac’s containment level 3 facility, one of the largest and most advanced in the world, the organization’s scientists, technicians and clinical veterinarians established a disease challenge model and developed a first  generation vaccine within 18 months The vaccine is administered to sows prior to farrowing to protect offspring from infection and has been shown to be 95 per cent effective in protecting piglets. These results have been presented at several conferences, and scientific manuscripts for publication have been drafted. Thousands of doses have been produced to be used in field trials following regulatory approval. If these trials are successful, it is the organization’s goal to make the vaccine available to Saskatchewan producers. As an example of magnitude, the swine industry accounted for CAD$5.1 billion in Canada in 2014 including $358 million in Saskatchewan.   

The only way a vaccine can be used in a country is if it is approved by the regulatory agencies. To facilitate the regulatory approval and international marketing VIDO-InterVac is in discussion with several potential partners to commercialize the vaccine, allowing worldwide access to this technology developed in Saskatchewan. 

To further support the eradication of PEDV in Canada, VIDO-InterVac is working to develop a next generation PEDV vaccine, and is developing methods to inactivate the virus that will be used to improve swine transport vehicle cleaning. 




120 Veterinary Road

Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E3