The BIOPIC team, which stands for Biology of Picornaviruses, studies the Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus - the FMD being one of the most devastating animal diseases and a worldwide priority for its control and eradication because of its major economical impact. The team conducts valuable expertise, including national and international  reference, high-end diagnostic and epidemiological surveillance as well as research.

Our mission: a high-end diagnostic

The team is in charge of the National Reference Laboratory mandates for Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), Swine Vesicular Disease (SVD) and Vesicular Stomatitis (VS). For foot-and-mouth disease the team also ensures the OIE reference laboratory and the FAO reference center mandates as well as the European Union reference laboratory mandate that shares with Sciensano in Belgium. The team contributes to the prevention of these diseases by providing emergency diagnostic services for detection, identification and characterization of these viruses in case of outbreaks. The team also provides expertise, consultation and training at national and international levels.

The team reference activities are supported by applied and fundamental research.

Our research axes:

  • The objectives are the study of the FMD virus, its persistence and its interactions with its hosts. The team also conducts epidemiological surveillance, a necessary step in the prevention of potential viral emergences.
  • As a reference laboratory, the team has to perform conclusive diagnostic and be able to confirm the presence or the absence of the FMD virus. In that respect, the researchers have developed advanced technology to detect and characterize the virus, and to discriminate the FMD virus from its look-alike, the vesicular stomatitis and the swine vesicular disease. The team strives to continuously develop better diagnostic tools, which will give faster and more reliable results to help their sollicitators.
  • This virus is highly persistant for a long period of time even in vaccinated animals. To that extend, we analyse the established persistance and durability mechanisms to discover new therapies to stop them. This project is oriented towards control and reduction of the spread of the virus. Interactions between virus, host and its innate immunity are studied, both in domestic ruminant and swine. There is persitance of the virus for the former species but not for the latter, hence the relevance to study them both.
  • We develop bioinformatics FMDV sequence alignment tools to search for conserved regions within a type. These tools are used to develop epidemiological molecular diagnostic tools to characterize circulating viruses. These studies fall within the PCP Program (Progressive Control Pathway) of the FAO, which guides endemic countries to progressively improve the management of FMD risks. This helps to commercialize by-products between virus-free countries. 
  • We explore a new FMD adenovirus recombinant vaccine approach, which would allow to target several serotypes and to shed huge security constraints regarding standard vaccine production facilities.
  • Furthermore, we are looking into solutions to minimize sample transportation costs from African countries. To that extent, we have developped a filter test which allows the sampling in the field directly on test strips.

Our members :



Technical and Administrative Staff: RELMY Anthony, ROMEY Aurore, SALOMEZ Anne-Laure, MAMOUNY Aurélia

PhD student: SARRY Morgan

Modification date : 03 November 2023 | Publication date : 13 January 2021 | Redactor : Sarah Cardoso