Breakthrough may lead to strangles vaccine

New research shows how scientists have moved a step closer to developing a vaccine to protect horses from strangles.

World-leading scientists from the Animal Health Trust (AHT), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Karolinska Institute and Intervacc AB have developed a new protein-based vaccine to protect horses from strangles.

Strangles is caused by Streptococcus equi, which causes horses to suffer from large, pus-filled abscesses in their throat and neck. If successful, the new vaccine will have tremendous benefits to the health of horses around the world, according to AHT.

“We are delighted to have shown that our Strangvac vaccine protected over 80% of horses from this dreadful disease,” said professor Jan-Ingmar Flock, chief executive officer of Intervacc AB, the company that produced the vaccine. “Strangles is a scourge of the equine world, and the development of Strangvac has the potential to prevent many thousands of horses from falling ill each year.”

Dr. Andrew Waller, head of bacteriology at AHT, called the vaccine “extremely exciting,” noting that “the vaccine was designed using information from sequencing the DNA of S. equi and highlights the potential that the genome era heralds for improving the health of animals and people. Improving the health of horses is a core aim of the Animal Health Trust, and we are proud to have helped make this vaccine a reality towards finally breaking the hold this disease currently has on our horses.”

Flock added, “Transfer of the manufacturing process and production of commercial batches are underway towards the registration and launch of Strangvac. We anticipate that Strangvac will be available for use during 2020.”

The research, "Strangvac: A Recombinant Fusion Protein Vaccine that Protects against Strangles, Caused by Streptococcus equi," was published in the journal Vaccine and can be viewed here.

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