Engineering a wild fast-growing Mycoplasma bacterium to generate a novel vaccine for contagious caprine pleuropneumonia

January 12, 2018
Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund

A chidl feeding a goat

Photo: IDRC / Vincent Guyonnet

Contagious caprine pleuropneumonia (CCPP) is a severe pneumonia of goats that is widespread in Africa, Asia, and parts of the Middle East. The CCPP bacterium causes sick animals to experience severe symptoms and die within 7-10 days. CCPP infections can wipe out up to 70% of a goat herd, leaving behind economic devastation for poor smallholder farmers, especially women. Goats are an important source of income for women and CCPP severely affects their ability to provide for their children and family. CCPP has been reported in 40 countries in Africa and Asia and is estimated to cause annual losses of up to US$507 million.

Why we need a new CCPP vaccine

The most effective and affordable means of controlling CCPP is vaccination because antibiotic treatment does not eliminate the responsible bacterium. In addition, sanitary measures are not feasible in smallholder settings. The current CCPP vaccine is killed bacterium — it is safe but provides short-lived protection and therefore requires multiple revaccinations. The vaccine is also expensive due to tedious production methods.

A cutting edge vaccine solution for CCPP

To develop a fast growing CCPP vaccine for cheaper production and long term protection, cutting edge synthetic biotechnology tools will be used to delete harmful and nonessential genes from a fast growing bacterium isolated from wild goats. These genes will be replaced by CCPP protective vaccine candidates that have been identified using bioinformatics and validated experimentally. The resultant recombinant live bacterium will not only express CCPP protective proteins but will also regenerate robustly, producing higher yields of the vaccine.

Expected results

The expected outcome of the project is a novel recombinant live or killed vaccine that will be affordable, easy to produce, and retain the capacity to protect goats against CCPP. A new improved vaccine for CCPP will ultimately be of high significance for smallholders in Africa and Asia because better livestock hold will result in better nutrition and enhanced economic empowerment, especially for women smallholders.

Lead institutions

This project is a collaboration between The University of Bern in Switzerland and the Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA)-University of Bordeaux.  The team will also collaborate with scientists from the J. Craig Venter Institute in the USA.

  • Duration: 24 months   
  • Budget: CA$1.4 million