Vaccination of sarcoid-bearing donkeys with chimeric virus-like particles of bovine papillomavirus type 1

Equine sarcoids are fibroblastic skin tumours affecting equids worldwide. While the pathogenesis is not entirely understood, infection with bovine papillomavirus (BPV) type 1 (and less commonly type 2) has been implicated as a major factor in the disease process. Sarcoids very seldom regress and in fact often recrudesce following therapy. Nothing is known about the immune response of the equine host to BPV. Given that the viral genes are expressed in sarcoids, it is reasonable to assume that vaccination of animals against the expressed viral proteins would lead to the induction of an immune response against the antigens and possible tumour rejection. To this end we vaccinated sarcoid-bearing donkeys in a placebo-controlled trial using chimeric virus-like particles (CVLPs) comprising BPV-1 L1 and E7 proteins. The results show a tendency towards enhanced tumour regression and reduced progression in the vaccinated group compared to control animals. Although promising, further studies are required with larger animal groups to definitely conclude that vaccination with CVLPs is a potential therapy for the induction of sarcoid regression.

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