Funding for vaccine to tackle cause of UK pig herds’ major respiratory threat
10 Sep 2023
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council are funding the Royal Veterinary College efforts to develop vaccines to tackle the most prevalent respiratory ailment affecting pigs.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (M.hyop), the primary agent of the disease Enzootic pneumonia is found in an estimated 80% of UK pig herds. It can lead to a 16% growth reduction and a 14% decrease in feed conversion efficiency in affected animals, harming welfare and inflating farmers’ production expenses for farmers.
Although piglets are born free from M.hyop, contact with infected pigs particularly during lactation, exposes them to the disease and secondary pathogens, and places them at substantial risk.
There are no commercially available vaccines capable of preventing initial M.hyop infection and although antibiotics can combat the pathogen, there is concern about the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains.
The RVC research team, which includes Professor Dirk Werling, Dr. Rob Noad, and Dr. Sonja Jeckel, is seeking to develop novel vaccines to provide protective immunity and reduce transmission.
Previous RVC work funded again by BBSRC, together with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board identified essential genes for the pathogen's survival in pigs and isolated bacterial strains from UK pigs. The new research aims to pinpoint the bacterial genes necessary for disease development.
Professor Dirk Werling, Professor of Molecular Immunology at the RVCcommented: "Infection of Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is a really debilitating disease in pigs that causes huge economic losses for farmers. I am very pleased that we will be able to continue working with a pharmaceutical partner to develop a new vaccine using state-of-the-art technologies."