The BBSRC launches the UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network to help fight infectious diseases in animals

BBSRC has funded a new multidisciplinary network of veterinary vaccinology experts to help in the fight against animal diseases, some of which have the potential to spread to humans.

The UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network will draw together major UK research players to enhance the uptake of new technologies in order to design, develop and deliver safe and effective next-generation vaccines against new and (re)-emerging diseases.

The network includes experts from The Roslin Institute, The Pirbright Institute, Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Cambridge Veterinary School, Edinburgh University, Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Moredun Research Institute, Oxford University, The Royal Veterinary College and the University of Stirling. It has funding for 5 years (£300k) and will report to BBSRC and provide input into developing the future research agenda.

Vaccines represent one of the most cost effective ways of preventing and eradicating diseases and they are an important tool in the armoury against infectious diseases. With approximately 60% of animal diseases having the potential to cause human infections, these vaccines protect public health as well as enhancing animal welfare and sustainably improving livestock production to meet growing food demands.

While vaccination campaigns have had success, such as the eradication of rinderpest and reducing the usage of antibiotics and other drugs (e.g. aquaculture), new diseases (e.g. schmallenberg), exotic (e.g. avian influenza) and re-emerging diseases (e.g. Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome), have highlighted the need to re-think the current methods for developing vaccines.

Building on the UK strength in veterinary science, advances in biotechnology, and the biological revolution in new technologies (such as next generation DNA sequencing and synthetic biology), there are opportunities for researchers to create new veterinary vaccines and increase efficient development pathways for them.

BBSRC has fostered the multi-disciplinary community in order to form a coherent research agenda in this area. With the UK livestock industry (including cows, pigs, sheep, poultry and fish) estimated to have an annual value of over £14bn in 2013, the research will have direct benefits for the UK economy.

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