37.5 Million Parasitic Disease Research Project

UK - The health of Great Britain’s livestock sector will receive a big boost thanks to a grant to fund research into potential new vaccines for parasitic diseases such as roundworm, tapeworm and fluke.
calendar icon 23 June 2010
clock icon 5 minute read

Moredun Research Institute in Edinburgh has received the largest grant ever to be awarded by the EU in the field of animal health. Over 9 million Euros (£7.5 million) has been secured by a Moredun led “Paravac” consortium, in order to develop vaccines for important worm parasites which infect livestock.

The announcement was made by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead last night (Tuesday 22 June), at a reception at the Scottish Parliament.

Nematode parasites pose the greatest current threat to global agricultural productivity. These parasites can cause debilitating gut, lung or liver disorders which impacts negatively on animal health and welfare, therefore impairing global food security. Control of parasitic worms currently relies almost exclusively on the use of drugs, a solution threatened by the global emergence of worm populations that are resistant to the drugs used to control them.

An alternative, greener and more sustainable approach is to control these infestations by vaccination, and one of the specific aims of this grant will be to develop at least one prototype vaccine to the point of uptake by the commercial sector or through government/philanthropic agencies.

The nine million Euro grant, from the European Union’s Framework 7 research funding call, will fund a series of projects from over 20 academic partners across the globe over the next three years. Three commercial partners (including Pfizer Animal Health) are also involved in this initiative with the role of developing candidate vaccines discovered by the academic partners into commercial products.

Originally formed by farmers, Moredun is celebrating its 90th Anniversary in 2010. Still governed by farmers today, Moredun is internationally known for its work on the infectious diseases of livestock. Over the last 50 years Moredun has attracted and maintained some of the best internationally renowned scientists in the field of parasitology and has developed strong collaborations with research partners across Scotland, the UK, the EU and beyond.

This EU grant involves 20 academic partners in research consortium including Moredun Research Institute; 11 from within the EU, three each from South America and Africa, two from Asia and one from Australia.

The award of this EU Framework 7 funding is a reflection of Moredun’s international reputation for excellence in livestock science. Not only does it show that the Institute’s ability to leverage external funding, but it highlights the excellent leadership capabilities of Moredun’s scientists such as Professor David Knox - who has been appointed overall co-ordinator of the nine million Euro project.

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, commented: ‘Scotland has an enviable reputation as a world leader in the field of animal health research. This major award from Europe is further evidence of the esteem and regard in which the Moredun and its scientists are held on the global stage. The work promises to improve further the efficiency of livestock production and to deliver benefits to farmers in Scotland and the rest of the world.’

Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director of Moredun is delighted with this news. She commented: ““Parasitic disease remains a priority area for livestock science. Tools to control and prevent disease are urgently required, especially in the presence of rapidly emerging resistance to drugs used to control worms. Vaccines against parasitic roundworms, tapeworms and fluke are a very attractive option as they offer “green solutions” to contribute to sustainable development of livestock which will be essential for food security across the globe.”

She added: “This EU grant is just one of Moredun’s many recent funding successes – I am proud to report that Moredun scientists have attracted over £5 million in external grants so far this year to build on our existing resource base. Competition for research grants is fierce at the present time so I am particularly grateful for the efforts made by Moredun scientists to secure funding from external sources.”

Dr Fraser Stewart, Director VMRD Regulatory Affairs, Pfizer Animal Health said: “My colleagues and I are very pleased to join the team of international scientific groups based in Scotland, Ireland, Belgium and further afield in this exciting project. Pfizer Animal Health will bring expertise in technological and commercial development of vaccines which will allow the pipeline between research and the livestock sectors to be realised. This project is an excellent example of joined up planning for future needs.”

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