Development and deployment of a sub-unit vaccine against bovine babesiosis – Phase 2
Bovine babesiosis is a protozoan disease of cattle, water, and African buffaloes and is caused by Babesia bovis, a parasite transmitted by ticks. This parasite hides in red blood cells and evades immune responses, resulting in a persistent infection that often results in death. Babesiosis occurs in many parts of the world where ticks are present, including Africa and Asia, but its prevalence and incidence are often underestimated. Economic studies have estimated annual losses of US$57 million (approximately CA$75 million) in India and US$46 million (approximately CA$60 million) in Tanzania. While vaccination of young animals results in solid lifelong immunity, current vaccines are not safe as they may cause adult animals to become infectious, they may be contaminated with other pathogens, or they may cause hypersensitivity reactions.
This project was designed to develop a vaccine that is safe and effective. Firstly, it will develop a vaccine that will block parasite infection of host capillary blood vessels and disrupt transmission by tick vectors. The expected result is a dual-acting subunit vaccine capable of preventing parasite transmission, thus cutting the expansion of lethal B. bovis parasites in the field and reducing the effect of acute and severe babesiosis once infection occurs. Secondly, scientists are aiming to produce a vaccine that is safer than the current commercial vaccines, with little or no side effects and without the risk of inducing an infection in vaccinated animals.
This project was funded through The Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund, a partnership of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Affairs Canada, and IDRC. It represents a joint investment of CA$57 million over five years to support the development, production, and commercialization of innovative vaccines against priority livestock diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.