Pork Producers Around the World Expected to Benefit from Lawsonia Intracellularis Vaccine Research

Farmscape for May 18, 2022

Full Interview 7:21 Listen

Pork producers around the world are expected to be the main beneficiaries of research aimed at developing new subunit vaccines to protect pigs from Lawsonia intracellularis. Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization are using various techniques, including mass spectrometry, to identify antigens that can be used in the development of safe and effective subunit vaccines to prevent Lawsonia intracellularis, a common bacteria that reduces the ability of the intestines of pigs to absorb nutrients, resulting in slower weight gain. Kezia Fourie, a PhD Student with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, explains the goal is to provide additional options for producers to help them deal with this infection.

Clip-Kezia Fourie-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
These bacteria are endemic. That means they’re present in in most barns around the world and so we really want to create a safe and effective subunit vaccine for this bacteria. This will help producers clear the infection from their barns and will hopefully give then some economic relief. So mainly one of our biggest people we think will benefit is producers and some of the potential benefits include giving them more options for the vaccine. Again, this is a subunit vaccine so we have different parts of the bacteria. Therefore, these parts of the bacteria can’t revert to a form that actually cause disease. Another benefit is, because we’re only looking at targeted proteins from the bacteria, we can then identify animals that have been infected which is important for both shipping and marketing of animals and reducing the spread of the disease.

Fourie acknowledges Lawsonia is a very difficult bacteria to work with in the lab so there’s only a few labs around the world that can actually grow it. She says, once antigen candidates have been identified, researchers will begin the process of identifying the most effective formulations after which challenge studies which will help determine whether the vaccines actually protect against the disease.

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