Published: 10 Apr 2015 | Last Updated: 10 Apr 2015 11:23:07

A research project led at RVC by Dr Damer Blake and Prof Jonathan Rushton, working with Prof Fiona Tomley, has recently been awarded €714K by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Sustainable Food Security initiative.

The project, ‘Strengthening Animal Production and Health Through the Immune Response’ (SAPHIR) which is co-ordinated by Dr Isabelle Schwartz-Cornil (INRA, France), brings together 22 academic and industrial institutions in a four year programme. The overarching aim of the programme is to ‘generate effective vaccination strategies towards the control of endemic pathogens responsible for major economic losses in livestock, leading to improved viability, sustainability and profitability of food animal production systems, improved animal welfare, and reduced xenobiotic usage in farming’. The programme is broken into six pillars and 18 work packages with one Pillar (Strategies to translate SAPHIR research into the market and into the field) and two work packages led from the RVC. The objectives have been divided into three categories:

- Scientific: focused on mechanisms of immune protection, the genetic basis of host responses to vaccination, development of new vaccines and the epidemiological consequences of vaccination

- Technical: application of in vivo and ex vivo systems to develop new vaccines using cutting edge approaches for delivery, adjuvant selection and monitoring of effectiveness, ultimately bringing promising vaccines to demonstration

- Socio-economic: evaluation of the economic impact of the SAPHIR diseases at farm and national levels, understand the use and acceptability of new vaccines and apply the improved understanding to establish and communicate integrated health strategies combining vaccines and complementary management measures.  

The proposal brings together experts in immunology, biology, genetics, epidemiology and socio-economics of farm animals and their pathogens. The work will focus on Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae (pigs), Eimeria and Clostridium perfringens (poultry) as well as Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus (BRSV) and Mycoplasma bovis (cattle).  

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