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Closing in on a superior bovine TB vaccine

AgResearch scientists are making encouraging progress towards developing an improved vaccine to protect cattle from tuberculosis (TB).

Bovine TB represents a threat to the marketing of dairy and meat products in New Zealand and globally. While TB is currently well controlled in New Zealand livestock, it costs more than $80 million per year to keep this disease under control.

With funding from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, AgResearch's TB Immunology and Animal Health Team, led by Dr Bryce Buddle, have been working on developing a vaccine for TB in cattle that is effective, economical, and compatible with current TB testing methods. A suitable vaccine must also be acceptable to our export markets and not affect meat quality.

The current BCG vaccine is problematic in that it often leads to false positive results in diagnostic skin tests for TB. While more specific blood tests can be used to prevent these false positives, these add expense.

Dr Buddle and his team are looking at whether delivering the BCG vaccine orally would offer protection without interfering with diagnosis. They are also working on refining the current vaccine to deliver a dosage that achieves these twin aims.

Furthermore, in a collaboration with Massey University and Industrial Research Limited, Dr Buddle and his team are investigating the potential of a new protein-based vaccine, delivered with a novel vaccination delivery system.

"The prospects for a vaccine to better control and eradicate bovine TB are encouraging. We are optimistic about taking another step forward in November with results from research into the lower dose BCG vaccine," Dr Buddle says.

For more information contact bryce.buddle@agresearch.co.nz

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