Researchers Explore Potential of Subunit Vaccines to Protect Pigs from Swine Dysentery

Farmscape for July 13, 2021

The Western College of Veterinary Medicine is exploring the potential for subunit vaccines to protect pigs from Brachyspira associated diarrhea. Brachyspira is a genus of bacteria, several species of which cause diarrhea in pigs. Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine are using Brachyspira as a model in the development of vaccines to protect pigs from Swine Dysentery. Dr. John Harding, a professor with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says researchers have been working on this for about 10 years now.

Clip-Dr. John Harding-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
We started off studying specifically Brachyspira hampsonii because that is the most common Brachyspira causing diarrhea in western Canada.
We’ve since moved into Brachyspira hyodysenteriae but we are hoping that what ever vaccine we develop will cross protect against both of those species and that’s a big challellenge. Getting a vaccine to protect against the same species is going to be a challenge enough but we’ve got big dreams here. We have previously attempted vaccination with a virulent live bacteria that you would feed orally, we have tried whole cell killed bacterins where the bacteria is basically grown up, killed, busted up and then injected as a vaccine. Now we’re moving into the subunit approach where we believe we have identified a couple of key proteins that are involved in virulence. Invitro tests they certainly can light cells so we know they are very potent and biologically active and now we’re in the process of essentially formulating vaccines and injecting those intramuscularly in an attempt to induce an immune response in the gut which will then protect against dysentery.

Dr, Harding says the goal now is to find an antigen and adjuvant combination that will induce a sufficient immune response. He says, if the system can be made to work, subunit vaccines will be cheaper, more efficient and more effective.

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