Dr Michael Jarvis, Associate Professor
The Vaccine Group (TVG) Ltd (UK)
Professor Alain Vanderplasschen, University of Liege (Belgium)
Dr Matthew Upton, University of Plymouth (UK)
Headlines are filled with news of drug-resistant bacteria running out of control. The Chief Medical Officer for England highlighted the critical nature of this problem, warning that "antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at a rate that is alarming and irreversible…". There are similar problems in managing bacterial infections in livestock. Overuse in animals may also be increasing resistance in bacteria affecting humans. Vaccination may help tackle the crisis. The Norwegian fishing industry has shown vaccination to be highly effective at controlling bacterial infections without the need for antibiotics. Our aim is to develop an effective vaccine against bovine mastitis (bacterial infection of the udder), a cause of serious health problems in dairy cows. Mastitis also decreases milk production and quality, costing the UK dairy industry £200 million a year. Dairy farmers are making considerable headway in reducing antibiotic usage. Unfortunately, current vaccines against mastitis bacteria are not very effective, which means farmers must still use antibiotics and costly animal management procedures to control mastitis. We will develop a safe and effective vaccine to reduce mastitis in cows using a new kind of vaccine already shown to be effective against other difficult-to-control diseases. This proof-of-concept study will focus on one of the three main bacteria that cause mastitis, Escherichia coli (E. coli). In addition to our main goal of helping UK farmers, a mission of the company leading this project, The Vaccine Group (TVG), is to develop vaccines that also benefit low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Many LMICs, such as Ethiopia, depend on milk for food and mastitis is similarly a big problem. Additional unique selling points of our vaccine therefore relate to its low cost: both in terms of administration, being able to induce long-lived immune responses after only one or two doses, and in regard to vaccine production.