Engineering vaccines against hemorrhagic septicemia in ruminants

January 12, 2018
Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund

Tilling rice paddies with water buffaloes

Photo: Markus Kostner / The World Bank

The burden of hemorrhagic septicemia on smallholders

Hemorrhagic septicemia is an acute and often fatal bacterial disease that affects mainly cattle and buffaloes in Asian and African countries. The causative bacteria is Pasteurella multocida. Most Asian countries rank hemorrhagic septicemia as the most important contagious disease in cattle and buffaloes; globally the disease ranks second in terms of livestock units lost for buffalo, and it ranks fifth for cattle. Epidemics can be economically devastating. Not only do they jeopardize livelihoods based on reduced animal production, but they also impede the harvest of vital crops dependent on animal traction.

Challenges with current vaccines

Vaccination is the most efficient and cost-effective method to control hemorrhagic septicemia. However, current vaccines are often ineffective because the bacterium has many variants and effective vaccination requires isolation and vaccine preparation of each variant. This is complicated by the absence of proper tools to identify these variants. Therefore, the main challenge is to design vaccines capable of stimulating protective immune responses against all known variants of the bacteria.

Innovative protein engineering solution

Using innovative techniques such as protein engineering, the project aims to isolate and generate novel proteins of Pasteurella multocida and use them to stimulate a universal antibody response. This approach translates into a high probability of success for the identification of antigens against most strains of bacteria responsible for hemorrhagic septicemia.

Expected results

The overall expected result of this project is the development of a universal protective and long-lasting vaccine, using bio-engineered antigens, against hemorrhagic septicemia in ruminants.

Lead institutions

The project is a collaboration between the University of Calgary, the University of Toronto, and VIDO-InterVac. This team will also collaborate with the Armauer Hansen Research Institute in Ethiopia and the National Centre for Animal Health in Bhutan.

  • Duration: 24 months
  • Budget: CA$1.5 million