Signature of a scientific collaboration protocol about avian influenza with South China Agricultural University

Paris, May 29th 2013 1- Ceva, a socially responsible company committed to the well-being of the planet Ceva Santé Animale is a multi-national French based animal health company that counts over 3000 employees, 800 of whom are based in France, with a turnover...

Paris, May 29th 2013

1- Ceva, a socially responsible company committed to the well-being of the planet

Ceva Santé Animale is a multi-national French based animal health company that counts over 3000 employees, 800 of whom are based in France, with a turnover which exceeds 600 M€.

The company was formed in 1999, when Sanofi sold its veterinary business. Since then, Ceva has seen constant and spectacular growth, one of the most important in its sector: +14% in 2012 and +26% in avian biology. Today, Ceva is the 9th animal health company in the world and ranks 3rd in avian biology. Ceva is directly present in over 43 countries worldwide.

Ceva achieved this level of success through the motivation and commitment of their teams who focused on creating innovating solutions – products and services – to meet the customers’ expectations, no matter how diverse or varied.

Ceva is, above all, an economically and socially responsible company, committed to the planet’s well being. This is summarized in the company vision, “Together beyond animal health”. By developing pharmaceuticals and vaccines Ceva subscribes to a One Health approach that recognizes the essential link between the health of humans, animals and the environment. Its mission acts at 3 levels:

  • Helping feed a growing population through ensuring sufficient and secure food resources. Today the world’s population has reached 7 billion and with1 billion people who are still under nourished. In 2050, there will be 9 billion people to feed.
  • Preventing the expansion of zoonoses which with the increased mobility of the growing population. 70% of the emerging human infectious diseases come from animals.
  • Promoting the benefits of human/animal interaction (HAI) in a society that is more and more urbanized and increasingly stressful.

For these reasons, Ceva has developed, among other skills, a unique expertise in the field of avian biology. Ceva offers a complete range of vaccines to fight all the major avian pathologies and offers a complete range of integrated vaccine solutions including products, equipment and services – to facilitate and secure animal production.

The choice to focus on avian biology was driven by theundeniable fact that poultry will become the most widely consumed animal protein, due to its dietary properties, its cost and its low greenhouse gas emissions.

Using its network in over 43 countries, Ceva was able to developa wide expertise of the pathologies affecting poultry production, layers and breeders. The company also had the opportunity to acquire a deep understanding of the farmers’ needs around the world, beyond cultural differences.
The presence of its "campuses", which combines research centers and industrial production sites in Hungary, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and recently in China (together with a team of Japanese researchers), has allowed Ceva to combine the skills of its teams with those of a large number of partners - governments, international health organizations anduniversities involved in the livestock sector.

Based on its knowledge and experience in the field of avian biology, Ceva invested in the swine vaccine sector in 2011. This sector is rapidly developing due to the fact that the consumption of pork keeps growing, particularly in emerging countries, and also because farmers who worry about the risk of antibiotic resistance are more inclined to chooseprevention. Today, vaccines represent over 35% of global swine health productssales.

2. Ceva is committed to helping China face the major global food and health challenge

China is at the center of the international scene. Its population continues to grow and living standards are rapidly increasing. Meat consumption is as a result also increasing, particularly that of chicken. Globally, China now consumes more chicken meat than the United States. This consumption will continue to increase: + 30% by 2020, and China will become the world's largest producer of chicken meat.

But production costs are constantly increasing, especially for cereals, which constitute the major input for poultry producers. We must also try to produce more efficiently, economizing the use of precious water resources.
Logically, the Chinese authorities have made the eradication of epidemics and the reduction of mortality in poultry, a strategic area of focus.

In this context, vaccination has become anessential step to better protect animals, reduce production costs and improve livestock productivity, thus enhancing food security.

In areas with high concentrations of people and animals, vaccination is also the best defense against the risk of emergence of zoonoses, always likely to turn into pandemics, in our world of increased mobility.

At the forefront of these diseases affecting livestock, is avian influenza. The H5N1 virus (not to be confused with the H7N9 virus that affects people) causes heavy losses in poultry. And if this virus only sporadically affectsthe human population, it could, through accidental mutation, create a very serious global health problem.

Ceva has unrivaled expertise with its HVT vector technology. Its new Vectormune® AI vaccine is particularly effective in protecting poultry against avian influenza caused by H5N1 influenza virus.

This demonstrates how Ceva’s investment in China has a promising future. The partnership began with the creation of a subsidiary, which now employs 20 people including two expatriates.

It was followed by the signing in July 2011 of a partnership agreement with Huadu, a subsidiary of the China Agricultural Group. Ceva Huadu, the joint venture, which was formedafter this agreement is located in Beijing. It employs 230 people. The new company will benefit from Huadu’s modern production facility, which meets the highest international standards of quality, and from the expertise of its parent company in poultry production. It will also be able to benefit from the expertise of Ceva in vaccines and preventative programs. It aims to develop a leading position in the Chinese market.

But the investment of Ceva on the health front will not stop there. Ceva wishes most notably to bring an effective answer to the problems caused by avian influenza.

In this context, Ceva has therefore signed a scientific cooperation agreement with the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Guangzhou (South China Agriculture University).

The objective of this agreement is to evaluate Ceva’s Vectormune® AI against local virulent strains of avian flu... By bringing Ceva’s teams and the Chinese university laboratories together, it will also contribute to the development of new products with Chinese partners.

3. Contribution to the control of avian influenza

"Avian influenza" is the common name given to the clinical manifestations due to the infection of domestic and wild birds by an influenza virus. It is a virusthat varies widely both in terms of its genetic or morphological and pathological characteristics. It also varies in terms of contagiousness and ability to move from one species to another, or even to humans (zoonotic potential) if specific epidemiological parameters are met.

The recent emergence of an avian influenza outbreak caused by an influenza virus type H7N9 China is the very good example of the diversity of expression of the disease. Today, the virus presents a significant zoonotic threat but a low disease incidence in the overall bird population, it is chickens where it is particularly pathogenic.

With its expertise in vector vaccine biotechnology, Ceva has developed Vectormune® AI, designed to control and eliminate the H5N1 influenza virus.

This vaccine was licensed by the U.S. administration and tested by international research centers against all identified virulent strains of H5N1 and scientifically demonstrated its full effectiveness.

Moreover, it is now registered and used with particular success in Egypt, another country affected by the endemic form of the H5N1 avian influenza.

Vectormune® AI is not administered during the production period but at the hatchery as soon as the chick hatches, The implementation of vaccination at a single location by well trained teams following controlled procedures ensures the quality of vaccination and greatly reduces the risk of the virus spreading by avoiding the need for vaccination teams to visit different sites.

Ceva not only provides vaccines but also training, maintenance and logistics support to poultry producers through its C.H.I.C.K. Program.
The implementation of Vectormune® AI vaccination at the hatchery completes the use of conventional vaccines. The use of such vaccines in breeding flocks ensures an early passive protection of chicks and chickens, the presence of which allows the development of the protection induced by the vector vaccine. The combination of these two vaccine approaches, the existing conventional and the other more recent and future, will significantly improve the effectiveness of vaccination to eradicate the H5N1 avian influenza.

Ceva with the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Guangzhou (South China Agriculture University) will scientifically evaluate the effectiveness of this technology against the H5N1 strains present and described in China. This study will validate the value of beginning registration and a transfer of production according to the regulations in place in China.

In addition, if appropriate, it will allow the start up of research work in collaboration with Chinese institutions regarding the value of using Ceva’s technology for the control of other diseases, including other forms of avian influenza caused by new viruses.

4. Veterinary College of the South China Agricultural University

South China Agriculture University (SCAU) was founded in 1908. Its main campus is in Wushan, Guangzhou. The university has 24 colleges, including the veterinary college, and 36,000 students including international students from 22 countries.

SCAU has longstanding experience in teaching and research, dating back to 1909. Biology is the university’s main discipline, but SCAU also offers courses in all subjects related to agriculture, engineering, basic sciences, life sciences,economics, management, law, history and philosophy.

Over the years SCAU has built academic relations with numerous universities around the world. It now has 23 partner universities in 13 countries across Europe, America, Asia and Oceania.

Founded in1951, the Veterinary College of the South China Agricultural University also has a long history of education and research in the field of animal health. In particular, the veterinary college has a laboratory for research on thefeeding of and control of diseases in poultry. This specialisation in poultry adds special relevance to the new partnership with Ceva to test a solution against avian influenza.

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