Update on louping ill virus vaccine project

Update: January 2021

Some good progress has been made on this project despite working restrictions, which have seen the trial pushed back nearly a year. The vaccine development team offer their thanks to the donors for their support and patience. The current plan is to begin the vaccination trial in June with the key in autumn this year.

Viral work

Work continues at the Moredun Research Institute (MRI) to produce a new vaccine against the tick-borne disease louping Ill.

  • The virus needed for the louping ill virus model setup has been prepared.
  • The manufacture of the antigen (the substance that causes the sheep’s immune system to produce antibodies against it) required for the vaccination study is also complete.
  • Everything is in place to get going with the LIV model experiment - we are just waiting for final Health & Safety Executive approval (COVID has slowed this process down considerably).
  • HSE willing, we plan to start the vaccination trial in early June 2021. We are all praying we don’t get any more lockdowns before we start!


The GWCT is offering support to Moredun for as much of a parallel commercialisation process as is possible. We hope to hear we can speed the commercialisation process.

  • Autumn 2021 is now the target for a working vaccine.
  • There are potentially six months to two years of commercialisation thereafter.
  • A product on shelves by spring 2022 is at the optimistic end of the scale.


Very sadly the roll-call of agricultural and sporting shows that aren’t going ahead this year is increasing. The Royal Highland Show and Scottish Game Fair haven’t been called yet. The roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines mean we may be able to host a progress meeting for donors sometime late this summer. Our plan would be for an August or September meeting of donors at the Moredun’s facility on the Bush Estate, Midlothian. We’ll take a decision after Easter on whether we can have a meeting later this year, when the further need for social distancing may be clearer.

Other news

On another note, Moredun facilities and staff are assisting with in COVID-19 work, including surveillance, diagnostic test development and running the current diagnostic tests.

Dr Beth Wells, Moredun Research Institute
Dr Adam Smith, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (Scotland)

Moredun   GWCT Scotland

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