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New Strep suis vaccine research may help to combat other bacterial swine infections

Research aimed at creating an effective vaccine to prevent Strep suis is expected to be applicable to other bacterial diseases that affect animals.

12 May 2020, at 10:19am

Scientists working on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc are investigating a novel approach to creating a vaccine to prevent Streptococcus suis.

Strep suis encapsulates itself in a sugar based envelope which the immune system can't detect rendering typical vaccines ineffective and leaving treatment with antibiotics as the only option.

Speaking to Farmscape, Dr Marcelo Gottschalk, the Director of the International Reference Laboratory for Streptococcus suis at the University of Montreal, says this new approach involves proteins linked to purified fragments of the sugar based coating, which will be synthesised to reduce costs, that will allow the immune system to recognise the bacteria and stimulate an immune response.

"A vaccine which combines a sugar with a protein is called a conjugate vaccine," explains Dr Gottschalk.

"There are some in human medicine which are currently used but none in veterinary medicine yet.

"If we are able to produce a conjugate vaccine based on synthetic sugar with a reduced cost, this technology may be used with other bacterial pathogens because most bacterial pathogens do have a capsule, as I mentioned with Strep suis, and antibodies against those capsules are usually protective so the same technology or very similar technology might be applied to other animal pathogens.

"The reduction in the use of antibiotics is so far very well advanced in Europe. It's arriving now to North America.

"More and more producers would like to transform their production systems into raised without antibiotics systems.

"If you consult them and ask them which is the main problem, you will see that most of them will definitely say that Strep suis is the main problem to the survival of such systems."

Dr Gottschalk says, if we are going to expect veterinarians to control diseases on farms without using antibiotics, they are going to need more tools to do so.