Search goes on for fluke vaccine

New effective vaccines to counteract liver fluke in livestock are the objective of a research project in UCD.

According to researcher Grace Mulcahy, by merging recent technological advances in molecular biotechnology, she and her colleagues will gain a deeper understanding of how liver fluke parasites interact with their animal hosts, cattle and sheep.

“We will learn at a molecular level how these parasites invade their hosts, how they control and regulate their immune responses and how this leads to chronic disease, pathogenesis and death.”

Theirs is one of 23 research projects for which over €30m of Government funding to support 100 research positions has been announced.

Funding over a four to five year period for each project will range from €500,000 to €2.3m.

Another of these projects will investigate the commercial possibilities for seaweed extracts in the animal feed industry. According to researchers John O’Doherty and Torres Sweeney in UCD, “The preventative and therapeutic properties of seaweed has been known since early times.

The objective here is to characterise the molecules in native macroalgae that have health promoting properties, develop the large-scale methodologies to purify them and explore commercial avenues for them in the animal feed industry.”

They say there is an urgent requirement to identify alternatives to the widespread use of antibiotics in veterinary and human medicine which has, over time, selected for a broad spectrum of pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics. “This is of major concern for public health and has resulted on an EU ban on‘in-feed’ antibiotics in animals.”


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