Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

E. Bart Tarbet


E. Bart Tarbet


Dale L. Barnard


Lee F. Rickords


Discovered in 1969 in California, enterovirus 71 (EV-71) is a serious cause of disease in young children. It is one of the major causative agents of hand, food, and mouth disease (HFMD), and can produce neurological complications, such as meningitis, encephalitis, and an acute flaccid paralysis. For serious cases, the fatality rate can be up to 26%, almost exclusively in young children.

While the virus was initially discovered in the United States, it was soon detected in the Eastern hemisphere, causing outbreaks in Europe and Asia. The largest outbreak occurred in Taiwan in 2008, with approximately 490,000 cases and 128 fatalities. However, despite the seriousness of EV-71, there are currently no approved antiviral treatments. Physicians rely on supportive care and the off-label use of a purified antibody mixture, intravenous immunoglobulin, for treatment.

Part of the difficulty in developing antivirals for EV-71 is a lack of drug testing in animal models. Animal testing is a crucial step in drug development, determining which compounds will progress to clinical trials in humans. However, viruses that cause disease in humans do not necessarily cause disease or the same type of disease in animals. As such, viruses often need to be adapted before they can cause disease in their animal hosts. Adaption isn’t always successful and can result in a virus that produces disease that is unlike that seen in humans. Furthermore, some animal models can produce disease only under a strict set of conditions, such as newborn mice. Sometimes these animal model conditions may be impractical for testing potential treatments.

At the Institute for Antiviral Research (IAR), we developed an animal model for EV-71 in four-week-old AG129 mice. AG129 mice lack the alpha, beta, and gamma interferon receptors, making them immunocompromised. Being immunocompromised, these mice are more susceptible to infection, including infection from human viruses. In our model, EV-71 infection produces neurological signs, including a rear-limb paralysis (similar to the paralysis seen children with EV-71). The virus is also lethal in these animals, which provides an observable and consistent baseline for evaluating potential drugs.

We assessed twenty-four potential treatments in our EV-71 model. Two compounds, STF434 and STF1019, provided 30% and 87% protection against mortality. Intravenous immunoglobulin was also examined and found to be about 50% protective against mortality, depending on the dose and time of administration. Intravenous immunoglobulin also reduced inflammatory modulators (cytokines) in the brain and spinal cord. We consider this to be highly relevant, given that inflammation is a serious component of EV-71 infection.



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