Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth, has announced the licensure of West Nile-Innovator DNA, a vaccine for horses to aid in the prevention of viremia caused by the potentially deadly West Nile virus.The product, developed in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control, is believed to be the first DNA vaccine in the world to be approved by a veterinary or human medicine regulatory agency for commercial sale."Fort Dodge, which has a long-standing commitment to innovative research and product development, recognized the significant value of DNA in the prevention of disease in animal populations, as well as humans, and worked with the CDC to develop West Nile-Innovator DNA," said Dr. Steve Chu, Fort Dodge senior vice for president, global research and development. "During this process, Fort Dodge made some groundbreaking discoveries that simplified the preparation and formulation of the vaccine, enabling the successful development, testing, and registration of the first product of its kind."
Administered intramuscularly, the vaccine causes the horse's cells at the vaccine site to begin manufacturing proteins from the raw virus DNA that has encoded into the cells. Those proteins trigger a protective immune response. West Nile-Innovator DNA will be added to Fort Dodge's line of equine products in early 2006 and will be available through licensed veterinarians.West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne disease, continues to be a significant health threat to U.S. horses--approximately one in three horses that become clinically ill with WNV will die or be euthanatized. All unvaccinated horses that come into contact with infected mosquitoes are at risk for contracting the disease. Since its discovery in 1999 through the end of 2004, WNV spread rapidly across the United States with 22,602 cases of clinical WNV reported in horses.Fort Dodge in 2001 introduced West Nile-Innovator, the first USDA-approved WNV vaccine for horses. In 2003, Fort Dodge introduced West Nile-Innovator combination vaccines for WNV and encephalomyelitis.