Synthetic Sugar-Based Vaccine Offers Prospects for Improved Strep Suis Prevention

Farmscape for September 22, 2023

Full Interview 20:37 Listen

A team of researchers working in partnership with Swine Innovation Porc is developing the first synthetic sugar-based vaccine in veterinary medicine to protect pigs from Strep suis. Dr. Marcelo Gottschalk and Dr. Mariela Segura with University of Montreal and Dr. Todd Lowary with the University of Alberta, with funding provided by Swine Innovation Porc, have linked a synthetic sugar derived from the coating that protects Streptococcus suis to a protein to allow the pig’s immune system to see the bacteria.
Dr. Gottschalk, the Director of the International Reference Laboratory for Streptococcus suis, says the challenge is to induce antibodies to neutralize the protective capsule that envelopes the bacteria.

Quote-Dr. Marcelo Gottschalk-University of Montreal:
This capsule is made by sugar, only sugar so the host, the pig doesn’t see the bacteria when the bacteria enters because it’s covered by the sugars. We demonstrated in the past that, if we link the sugar to a protein then the immune system can see the sugar and produce antibodies. This is expensive to do that so, what we have done is to synthesize the sugar. A little part of the sugar is completely synthetic and this has been linked to a protein and we were able to demonstrate that part of the sugar, completely synthetic, is able to induce antibodies. When given to a pig, and then you give two weeks to develop antibodies, when you challenge those pigs with the virulent bacteria of Strep suis, the piglets are protected. The sugar part will be the first synthetic sugar-based vaccine in veterinary medicine, not only in pigs but in all species.
This has never been done before.

Dr. Gottschalk says researchers have proved a sugar-based vaccine can protect pigs from Strep suis and now they are developing an improved version of the synthetic sugar.

He says the goal is to create a product that can ultimately be commercialized by a pharmaceutical company.

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