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New funding to accelerate the eradication of bovine tuberculosis

Professor Ivan Morrison and his team at The Roslin Institute receive over £0.7M to develop new vaccines against devastating cattle disease.


Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is one of the biggest challenges facing the cattle farming industry today, particularly in the West and South West of England. The current 'test-and-slaughter' policy has failed to constrain the spread of bovine TB. Further understanding of the basic bioscience underpinning the disease and the mechanisms whereby vaccination induces immune protection in cattle will lead to a step-change in bovine TB treatment and eradication.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs), and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have just announced the six projects that will be funded in call two, as part of an integrated programme of research aimed at further understanding bovine TB strain diversity and the interactions between bovine TB and its host.

Prof. Ivan Morrison's project will examine a population of non-conventional bovine T-cells (NKp46+CD3+) as a novel target for vaccines against bovine TB. Previous studies from his group have shown that these cells recognise lipid antigens from Mycobacterium bovis and elicit a response that could be key to enhance the immunogenicity and efficacy of next-generation TB vaccines. The newly awarded funding will enable Prof. Morrison and colleagues to shed further light on the mycobacterial lipids that lead to NKp46+CD3+ T-cell responses in vivo and to determine whether these responses could be used to guide the development new effective vaccines against bovine TB.

The basic bioscience funded through this integrated research programme will play a crucial role in the development of next generation control and eradication strategies for bovine TB. Increasing the protection of herds to this disease is a top priority for UK food security, allowing greater food production from the same amount of land and reducing wastage in the food chain whilst reducing the cost to UK taxpayers.

Jackie HunterBBSRC Chief Executive Professor

Projects funded in call two: Eradication of bovine tuberculosis through basic research and discovery

Principal investigator Organisation Title Value
Professor James Wood University of Cambridge Exploring the richness of Mycobacterium bovis strain diversity to decipher the epidemiology of bovine tuberculosis ecology £657,348
Professor Ivan Morrison Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh NKp46+CD3+ T-cells as a novel target for vaccines against bovine TB £734,989
Dr Apoorva Bhatt University of Birmingham Defining the molecular basis of host-pathogen interaction in bovine TB £584,734
Dr Sharon Kendall Royal Veterinary College Mycobacterial determinants of survival and fitness within the bovine host £1,146,882
Professor Ian Jones University of Reading A reverse vaccinology approach to a bTB vaccine £1,549,335
Professor Elizabeth Wellington University of Warwick The farm environment: an overlooked source of Mycobacterium bovis? £930, 906

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