Bioinformatics Assisting in Lawsonia Intracellularis Vaccine Development

Farmscape for August 19, 2021

Full Interview 13:10 Listen

Researchers with the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization are using bioinformatics to identify proteins that can be used in vaccines to prevent Lawsonia intracellularis infection. Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field of science which involves the collection, classification, storage and analysis of biochemical and biological information using high powered computers. Researchers with VIDO-InterVac are using bioinformatics to model interactions among proteins, drugs and other compounds to identify, assess and select the most promising candidate proteins or antigens for the development of vaccines to protect pigs from Lawsonia intracellularis, a bacteria that causes ileitis. Dr. Zahed Khatooni, a postdoctoral fellow with VIDO explains, there are over 14 hundred proteins associated with the Lawsonia intracellularis bacteria, some of which are toxic and could kill the animal, others which could stimulate an immune response and many which are unknown.

Clip-Dr. Zahed Khatooni-VIDO-InterVac:
I am specifically looking to find the T cell antigen or the T cell epitope. These epitopes come from the Lawsonia intracellularis protein but finding those epitopes is not easy because those epitopes are actually small segments of the proteins. Lawsonia intracellularis has around 14 hundred proteins. I want, first of all, to use those bioinformatic tools to sort my proteins and find the best epitope candidates to develop subunit vaccines. This bacteria is the major cause of ileitis and it costs millions of dollars each year. It causes the deaths of thousand of pigs and so it’s a really big problem.

Dr Khatooni says, once the most promising candidate antigens are selected, they will be tested first in mice and then in pigs.

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