Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (IRTA)

IRTA is a research institute owned by the Government of Catalonia (Spain) ascribed to the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food (DARP). IRTA's mission is to contribute to modernising, improving, boosting competitiveness, and fostering sustainable development in the sectors of agriculture, food, agroforestry, aquaculture, and fishing, as well as in all areas of activity directly or indirectly related to the supply of healthy, high-quality foodstuffs to end consumers, while also contributing to food safety and safe processing of foodstuffs and in general enhancing the health and well-being of the population. The animal health research program of IRTA is the Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (CReSA), where Transvac2 activities will take place. CReSA activity is executed at the Edifici CReSA, which is a new and technologically advanced building, with conventional laboratories as well as biocontainment with level-3 biosafety (BSL-3) laboratories and animal facilities. The research at CReSA is being performed under the umbrella of three major activities: basic and applied independent research based on national and international projects (organized in 3 research subprograms: 1. Epidemiology and risk analysis, 2. Endemic diseases, and 3. Exotic or transboundary diseases), services for public administrations, and research contracts with agri-food sector companies.

Role in the TRANSVAC project

IRTA is an institution that offers transnational access (TN8) to BSL3 facilities (including animal facilities, laboratory facilities or both) and its experience, acquired in a previous infrastructure projects and as a singular scientific-technical infrastructure (ICTS) of the Spanish government, will facilitate the accomplishment of its tasks in TRANSVAC2. IRTA-CReSA is an essential centre for vaccine development and efficacy testing, e.g. for African swine fever, classical swine fever, Haemophilus parasuis, bovine and caprine TB, Schmallenberg virus (SBV), Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), avian influenza virus (including H5N1), and this expertise will be highly relevant to the consortium. IRTA has also developed multiple animal and/or arthropod models to work with zoonotic pathogens such as avian and swine influenza, RVFV, MERS-coronavirus, West Nile virus and chikungunya virus. Also, IRTA participates in joint research actions (JRA4), mainly on the area of comparative immunogenicity of vaccines between different model species and humans as well as immunization models for neonates. Finally, IRTA is involved in network activities (NA2, NA3 and NA4) within the so called scientific-technical networking, mainly on animal models, training programs in vaccinology and communication and dissemination of the results.

Main staff involved in TRANSVAC

Joaquim Segalés; Virginia Aragón; Natàlia Majó; Xavier Abad; David Solanesy;

The Facility

CReSA counts with a biocontainment unit classified as BSL-3. The BSL-3 facility comprises about 1500 m2 of working spaces, devoted to laboratories (350 m2) and animal facility (1150 m2). In the laboratory area there are five fully equipped laboratories, for cell culture, virology, bacteriology, and molecular biology work. An additional laboratory is devoted to work with prions. In the animal facility area, there are eight boxes for large animals (pigs, ruminants) and two for poultry, one of them with four isolators. Two more rooms are dedicated to rodents and rabbits. A necropsy room is adjacent to the boxes. There are two more working spaces inside the biocontainment unit, 1500 m2 for air filtration (HEPA filtration) and 1500 m2 for the effluents treatment. This latter area includes 35 m2 for entomological studies that require using BSL-3 facilities. Outside of the biocontainment unit, CReSA has about 720 m2 of BSL-2 standard laboratories, fully equipped for works on molecular biology, pathology, virology, bacteriology, epidemiology, and entomology. All activities are carried out under the principles of good laboratory practices (GLP) and good clinical practices (GCP) quality regulation, confidentiality and following the European guidelines.

TNA or Training provided

IRTA offers expertise and facilities to internal and external clients (academic and industry) for fundamental and applied research on bacterial and viral vaccines, including expertise on pigs, poultry and ruminants in the fields of epidemiology, microbiology, virology, immunology, pathology, molecular biology, and entomology. We provide access to our BSL3 biocontainment facilities including flow cytometry and cell sorting in a BSL3 environment. Several animal models for translational research are available for immunogenicity and challenge studies: pigs (influenza viruses, Haemophilus parasuis, tuberculosis, torque teno viruses), goat (tuberculosis), sheep (Rift Valley fever), poultry (influenza), ferrets (influenza) and llamas (MERS-coronavirus). Animal models are also available for the most relevant infectious veterinary diseases in pigs, poultry and ruminants. IRTA can also provide scientific advice on the experimental design and methodology (including a report), all animal purchase, housing, maintenance and veterinary assistance, biological sampling, and immune monitoring by serology, cellular immunology (ELISpot, cell phenotyping), pathogen kinetics by classical and molecular methods in challenge studies, clinical chemistry and histology. IRTA can also provide training activities on the main areas of expertise depicted above, mainly in relation animal models.

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