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New funding to develop vaccines for poultry

The Roslin Institute receives BBSRC funding to develop strategies to reduce infections in farmed animals, control foodborne diseases and minimise antibiotic use in the food chain.

Image of a chicken

Professor Mark Stevens and collaborators at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, University of Exeter, John Innes Centre and the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory have received a BBSRC Strategic Longer and Larger (sLoLa) grant worth £5.7M to design and improve vaccines for poultry.

The award is one of three recently funded grants through BBSRC's sLoLa scheme, which gives world-leading research teams five years of funding and resources to address major challenges.

Chicken is the UK's most consumed meat and the world's most popular animal-based food. The sales of chicken meat and eggs are worth over £7.2 Bn per year in the UK alone. Moreover, the demand for chicken is increasing fast owing to population growth. However, poultry are key reservoirs of foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter and their productivity and welfare are constrained by endemic diseases caused by E. coli and clostridia. This project aims to develop and refine vaccines to protect poultry flocks against, Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli and Clostridium infection.

The most successful human vaccines that give long-lasting protective immunity are often glycoconjugates (proteins coupled to sugars), but these vaccines are complex and expensive to produce. This award will enable researchers to develop glycoengineering technology to produce a new generation of inexpensive veterinary vaccines.

Developing effective, inexpensive vaccines for livestock has multiple advantages, not just in protecting animals from disease, but also in reducing infections in humans and antibiotics in the food chain that are often used in rearing livestock. 

Brendan WrenPrincipal investigator of the project & Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

We are delighted to partner with BBSRC and leading laboratories to tackle important poultry and foodborne diseases. Taken together with BBSRC strategic investment in the National Avian Research Facility here at The Roslin Institute the project will greatly help us to address the global challenge of improving food supply and safety.

Professor Mark StevensDirector of Research at The Roslin Institute