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Tuesday, 18 March 2014 13:02

Seeking new vaccines against common parasites in sheep and bovine cattle

emmet Tullos emmet Tullos

An international team meets in Cordoba to discuss the latest developments in their research
An internacional team of researchers, members of the European project called PARAVAC - Vaccines against helminth-infection (http://paravac.eu/), will be presenting recent progress this week in Cordoba. The team will be showing developments in vaccines for the control of helminth parasites – commonly known as worms – in bovine cattle and sheep (Fasciola hepatica, Haemonchus contortus, Ostergatia ostertagi, Cooperia oncophora, and Echinococcus hydatidosus Dyctiocaulus viviparus) The project is funded by the European Commission and coordinated in its formative part by researchers José Pérez and Álvaro Martínez, of the ceiA3 Agrifood Campus of International Excellence at the University of Córdoba.
This is the international team’s third face-to-face meeting, a group whose work is part of a project under the 7th Framework Program, with a total funding of 12.5 M € and an EU contribution of € 9 million, involving 23 partners in Europe, America, Africa and Asia, as well as several SMEs and the pharmaceutical company Zoetis.
The parasites which are the object of study cause substantial economic losses in the livestock sector (estimated at over 3,000 M € per year worldwide). Two of them (Echinococcus, Fasciola) also affect humans, considered emerging zoonosis. The continued use of drugs for control is causing an alarming increase in parasite resistance, which together with climate change is causing an increase in the prevalence of parasites in animal production. For these reasons, the development of vaccines for the control of these diseases is a priority. However, after three decades of research, there is only one commercial vaccine against a helminth parasite in livestock, based on inactivated larvae, which is both very expensive and impractical, and there is no vaccine against human helminth parasites. This demonstrates the difficulty of producing a protective immunity against complex parasite with a similar genome size to the host.
The PARAVAC project has been successful in developing a vaccine for the control of H. contortus in sheep. This vaccine is in regulatory phase in different countries. Significant progress has also been made in all other vaccine candidates, confirming that vaccines can be a valuable tool for the control of helminth parasites in cattle and humans.

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