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Moredun makes major breakthrough in the war against worms

Scientists at the world renowned Moredun Research Institute in Scotland, have made a major breakthrough in the battle to prevent and control parasitic worm infections by successfully protecting sheep using vaccination. The team at Moredun have recently had their results published in the leading scientific journal Vaccine1 and the paper reports the most successful attempt yet to protect animals against worms using a recombinant vaccine, giving hope for a sustainable control strategy that does not rely on drugs.

Parasitic worms (nematodes) have profound effects on human and animal health and welfare worldwide: over 1 billion humans, primarily in the developing world, are affected by soil-transmitted nematodes. When measured in terms of disability-adjusted life years, their global impact is comparable to that of malaria or tuberculosis. Infection of livestock with closely related parasitic nematodes can have devastating effects on health and production, affecting food security in developed and developing regions. Despite decades of intensive research, the development of vaccines against these pathogens has been unsuccessful.

Dr Alasdair Nisbet, who is heading up the research team at Moredun said, “Currently, these pathogens are controlled using drugs, however multi-drug resistant isolates are being reported with such frequency that development of a vaccine against this species is now a research priority”.

The approach taken by the team at Moredun involved identifying a number of key proteins which the worm produces, some of which enable it to escape the immune response and to survive and multiply within the animal.  By immunizing sheep with these key proteins the research team showed that the vaccinated animals had significantly reduced numbers of adult worms and eggs shed into the environment.


  1. A.J. Nisbet, et al (2013) Successful immunization against a parasitic nematode by vaccination with recombinant proteins. Vaccine (In Press).

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Printed from on 27/06/17 02:38:32 PM

Moredun is committed to promoting animal health and welfare through research and education and is recognized worldwide for its contribution to research into infectious diseases of farmed livestock.