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Huskers aim to crack code of major swine virus

Two University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists have received a $627,000 federal grant to study a viral disease posing a significant threat to the swine industry worldwide. 

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus is widespread, causing reproductive failure in sows and major respiratory illness in pigs of all ages. In addition, the virus modulates the pig’s immune system, making the animal more susceptible to other infectious diseases. The costs to the U.S. swine sector from PRRSV annually total an estimated $1.1 billion. 

Hiep Vu, associate professor of animal science, is the co-director of the research project, funded by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The other co-director is Sarah Sillman, assistant professor with Nebraska’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center. 

The project will examine how PRRSV infects swine macrophages, the immune cells that recognize, engulf and destroy harmful intruders, including viruses and bacteria. 

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