RVC researchers Dr Shan Goh, Daniel Ngugi, Prof Dirk Werling and the late Prof Declan McKeever were part of an international team developing vaccines for Theileria lestoquardi, an important parasite causing disease in sheep.
The project was funded through the EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) (http://www.theileria.org/pirovac/), and results of the study were recently published in the journal PLOS One.
Theileria lestoquardi is a tick-borne parasite that infects leukocytes of small ruminants, resulting in high morbidity and mortality (46-100%). Infection results in malignant ovine theileriosis, a major livestock disease in Asia, the Middle East, and North East Africa, for which there are currently limited effective treatment options. Developing safe and effective subunit vaccines requires a greater understanding of immune responses to T. lestoquardi antigens. This is the first such study, identifying antigens that stimulate a protective response in sheep cells. The results pave the way for further screening of T. lestoquardi antigens and the development of subunit vaccines for protection against malignant ovine theileriosis.