Engineering a vaccine against hemorrhagic septicemia

March 11, 2020
IDRC/Bartay

The challenge

Hemorrhagic septicemia, caused by the bacteria Pasteurella multocida, is an acute and often fatal bacterial disease that primarily affects cattle and buffaloes in Asian and African countries.

Most Asian countries rank hemorrhagic septicemia as the most significant contagious disease in cattle and buffaloes. Globally, the disease is the second greatest killer of buffalo and the fifth greatest killer of cattle.

Epidemics of hemorrhagic septicemia can be economically devastating. Not only do they jeopardize livelihoods due to reduced animal production, 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 they do not contain all of the many circulating bacterium variants, each requiring isolation and vaccine preparation to be effective.

In the first phase of this project, researchers achieved preliminary proof of concept and demonstrated that one molecule from the bacterium retains capacity to protect cattle against hemorrhagic septicemia. The goal of the project’s second phase is to improve the performance and production of this molecule and to manufacture it on an industrial scale. Thus, the team will continue to use cutting-edge protein structural design to advance a new universal vaccine for hemorrhagic septicemia towards commercialization.

Expected results

This project will design and test a vaccine capable of a cross-protective immune response against all serotypes of hemorrhagic septicemia in cattle. The vaccine is expected to be safer and effective for longer than existing commercial vaccines that consist of killed bacteria.

Lead institutions

This project is a collaboration between the University of Calgary, the University of Toronto, and the National Veterinary Institute in Ethiopia.

  • Duration: 28 months
  • Budget: CA$1.5 million