An €800,000 funding award to enable Scottish and Swedish researchers to advance the development of a vaccine to protect piglets against a potentially devastating infection has been warmly welcomed by pig industry leaders.
The targeted problem is Streptococcus suis (S.suis), a bacterial pathogen which can cause severe infections in pig herds with devastating results for the industry. It’s also a potential zoonosis, although cases in humans are rare in the UK at one-to–seven cases a year, according to figures released by Public Health England in 2016.
Work to produce an innovative vaccine against S.suis has been progressing for some time as part of a joint-project involving Moredun Scientific in Edinburgh and the Swedish biotechnology company, Intervacc.
Now, the opportunity to further advance the development of the vaccine has been made possible by the release of new funding by Eurostars-2, a programme which is co-funded by the European Union and 36 national funding agencies.
Moredun and Intervacc’s current project budget is set at approximately e1.6million, with the Eurostars-2 award projected to cover 50% of project costs.
“This is excellent news,” said Andy McGowan, chief executive of Scottish Pig Producers. “Streptococcus suis is one of the major disease challenges for pigs in Scotland, particularly for younger age groups and a piglet vaccine would be a fantastic tool to have available.
“The involvement of Moredun Scientific, meanwhile, exemplifies the world-class research and development facilities that are available on our doorstep to help the Scottish farming industry.”
The Eurostars grant will fund a number of project steps, including pre-clinical efficacy studies in piglets, analysis of the immune response and vaccination of pregnant sows. Moredun Scientific is also planning to develop new models of S.suis infection, which will be added to their portfolio of disease models and made available for use in client studies.
“Eurostars funding competitions are highly competitive, we are delighted to be successful with our application which continues our collaboration with Intervacc,” said John Murray, Moredun Scientific’s managing director.
He added: “The funding award also confirms the importance of the S.suis vaccine project and highlights Moredun Scientific’s capabilities and expertise in supporting the development of veterinary vaccines”.