Moredun Research Institute has signed an agreement with Roslin Technologies, Scotland’s Rural College and the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, to fund the commercial development of an E. coli O157:H7 vaccine for cattle to prevent life-threatening illnesses in humans.
Dr Tom McNeilly is the Principal Investigator from Moredun and his research work together with Professor David Gally from Roslin Institute has provided the fundamental research behind the feasibility of a vaccination approach. Dr McNeilly and Professor Gally are now working closely with Dr Simon Wheeler of Roslin Technologies who are progressing the commercial development phase of the vaccine.
E. coli O157:H7 is a pathogenic bacterium of cattle which can cause life-threatening foodborne illness in humans through the consumption of contaminated products such as dairy products and meat. Despite efforts to reduce contamination of food, E. coli O157:H7 causes 1-10 cases per 100,000 people, with certain countries having clusters of more virulent strains (UK, USA, Argentina, and Sweden).
The experimental vaccine has been developed to limit E. coli O157:H7 shedding from, and transmission between, cattle. Although the bacteria doesn’t harm the cattle, farmers will be encouraged to vaccinate animals against infection and this new vaccine should enable this to be done cost-effectively. Early results have indicated that the vaccine may be more effective than other previous attempts and have a greater impact in reducing human exposure and infection
Tom McNeilly said:
“In order to be granted a licence, you have to show positive results from large scale trials, and particularly for this vaccine, prove it works in the US feedlot system. E. coli O157:H7 is prevalent in the US, as well as parts of South America and Europe, including the UK".
“The biggest market for this vaccine is in the USA and South America. To be commercially viable one has to show the vaccine works in their systems. We have a wonderful collaboration with the USDA and they’ve agreed to run a field trial in Nebraska with the help of Roslin Technologies.”
Under the new agreement, Roslin Technologies will perform a two-step validation trial from May – September 2020 in Nebraska, USA. The field trials will examine super-shedding in cattle (the passing of large volumes of bacteria in faeces) to discover whether the vaccine prevents shedding of the bacteria and is viable for commercial use.