New veterinary network targets animal diseases

A multidisciplinary network of veterinary vaccinology experts has been created to help fight animal diseases, some of which have the potential to spread to humans.

The new UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network, funded by BBSRC at £300,000 for the next five years, is designed to “enhance the uptake of new technologies in order to design, develop and deliver safe and effective next-generation vaccines against new and (re-)emerging diseases”.

“Vaccines represent one of the most cost effective ways of preventing and eradicating diseases and they are an important tool in the armoury against infectious diseases,” it was stated in the BBSRC announcement. “With approximately 60% of animal diseases having the potential to cause human infections, these vaccines protect public health as well as enhancing animal welfare and sustainably improving livestock production to meet growing food demands.

“While vaccination campaigns have had success, such as the eradication of rinderpest and reducing the usage of antibiotics and other drugs (e.g. aquaculture), new diseases (e.g. schmallenberg), exotic (e.g. avian influenza) and re-emerging diseases (e.g. Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome), have highlighted the need to re-think the current methods for developing vaccines.”

Network coordinator Dr Bryan Charleston, who heads the livestock viral diseases programme at The Pirbright Institute, said: “There is huge potential to improve animal welfare, human health, and the economic performance of the UK livestock industries by developing new vaccines for widespread infectious diseases caused by parasites, bacteria and viruses. The network will facilitate and promote coordination of research in this important field to generate the scientific knowledge and discoveries needed for a step change in veterinary vaccinology.”

The network includes experts from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Cambridge Veterinary School, Edinburgh University, Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Moredun Research Institute, Oxford University, The Pirbright Institute, The Roslin Institute, The Royal Veterinary College and the University of Stirling. 

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