A consortium of researchers in Cambridge and London has been awarded a £5 million grant from the BBSRC to develop a way of diagnosing and preventing respiratory diseases in pigs.

A consortium of researchers in Cambridge and London has been awarded a £5 million grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to develop a way of diagnosing and preventing respiratory diseases in pigs.
 
PigsThese bacterial diseases are a major animal welfare issue and cost the pig industry millions of pounds every year through both morbidity and mortality.
 
BBSRC awarded the Longer and Larger (LoLa) grant to the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
 
The aim of the six-year project is to develop a way to diagnose key respiratory diseases in pigs and develop a new vaccine. At the moment, these bacterial diseases are hard to diagnose and current vaccines are poor because they only work against a few strains and do not prevent bacteria spreading from pig to pig.
 
Consortium coordinator Paul Langford of Imperial College London said: “The worldwide economic and welfare burden of bacterial respiratory diseases in pigs is enormous but controlling infection is hampered because we have neither an effective vaccine nor good diagnostic tools.”
 
The team will be targeting four of the most common bacterial infections in pigs: Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, Haemophilus parasuis, Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae and Streptococcus suis, the last of which can also cause septicaemia and meningitis in humans, especially in people who work with pigs.
 
Brendan Wren of the LSHTM said: “Research on pig pathogens has lagged behind that of human infectious agents, through this project this could now change with the application state-of-the-art DNA-based technology.”
 
Andrew Rycroft of the RVC added: “The vaccine we expect to develop will provide an alternative for pig farmers to the use of antibiotics in controlling pneumonia in their animals. We will be working with producers, veterinarians and the pharmaceutical industry in finding better ways to combat these important diseases.”

 

Image ©iStockphoto.com/Lahnet
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