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New funding to develop vaccines for poultry

British research to develop and improve vaccines for bacterial infections of poultry.

The Roslin Institute has received funding from the U.K.'s Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to develop strategies to reduce infections in farmed animals, control foodborne diseases and minimize antibiotic use in the food chain.

Professor Mark Stevens and collaborators at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, University of Exeter, John Innes Centre and the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory have received a BBSRC Strategic Longer & Larger (sLoLa) grant worth 5.7 million pounds sterling to design and improve vaccines for poultry.

The award is one of three recently funded grants through BBSRC's sLoLa scheme, which gives world-leading research teams five years of funding and resources to address major challenges.

Chicken is the world's most popular animal-based food and the demand for chicken is increasing fast owing to population growth. However, poultry are key reservoirs of foodborne pathogens such as salmonella and campylobacter and their productivity and welfare are constrained by endemic diseases caused by Escherchia coli and clostridia. This project aims to develop and refine vaccines to protect poultry flocks against salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli and clostridium infection.

Accoding to the Roslin Institute, the most successful human vaccines that give long-lasting protective immunity are often glycoconjugates (proteins coupled to sugars), but these vaccines are complex and expensive to produce. This award will enable researchers to develop glycoengineering technology to produce a new generation of inexpensive veterinary vaccines.

The principal investigator of the project Brendan Wren, professor of microbial pathogenesis at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said, "Developing effective, inexpensive vaccines for livestock has multiple advantages, not just in protecting animals from disease, but also in reducing infections in humans and antibiotics in the food chain that are often used in rearing livestock."

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