Developing vaccines and diagnostic technologies for orphan animal diseases

To develop vaccines against ‘orphan’ livestock diseases
that continue to devastate the world’s poorest people.

Mobilize new science in a new consortium that integrates
private and public expertise, facilities and resources
in an international vaccine platform.

By tackling diseases in collaborative partnerships,
we can help millions of marginalized people
keep their livestock and livelihoods alive and productive.

Disease reigns in Africa and other regions of the developing world. The toll from malaria, schistosomiasis, filariasis, onchocerciasis and a host of other tropical human maladies is staggering. Tropical diseases of livestock wreak further havoc on lives of more than half a billion people dependent daily on their animals to sustain their lives and livelihoods.

Prospects for the world’s poor to overcome extreme poverty, chronic hunger and environmental collapse depend critically on whether we can find ways to lift the profound burden of disease from the tropical world. All tropical diseases have something in common. All are diseases of poverty. All could be success¬fully combated with an equitable share of the world’s biomedical and veterinary research resources.

On other continents, successful disease control has significantly increased the returns to livestock keeping through greater productivity and trade. But a range of infectious livestock diseases still devastates poor countries and their peoples. These include contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia, African swine fever, bovine tuberculosis, tsetse-transmitted trypanosomosis (known as sleeping sickness in people) and tick-borne diseases such as East Coast fever and heartwater. Diseases transmitted between animals and people such as the mosquito-transmitted Rift Valley fever put human as well as animal health at risk in poor countries. Other emerging zoonotic diseases of developing countries, such as highly pathogenic avian influenza, not only destroy livestock populations and livelihoods of the poor but also represent new global public health threats because of the potential of their causative pathogens to evolve ability to infect people directly, thereby enabling human-to-human transmission that could develop into deadly human pandemics and epidemics.

Over the long term, the best and cheapest way of controlling any infectious disease is by a vaccine. Considerable research effort over the past two decades has sought to develop cheap and effective ‘second generation’ subunit vaccines for control of complex pathogens, based on specific proteins or genes. Although significant milestones have been achieved, such subunit vaccines have generally been only partially successful. Past ILRI research has shown that cheap and safe experimental subunit vaccines can pro¬tect target livestock species against protozoan parasites. But while ILRI and other vaccine research groups around the world are increasingly successful in identifying protective vaccine candidates (antigens), there is a major bottleneck in improved strategies for the formulation of these candidates into effective vaccines.

We develop vaccines for livestock diseases, focusing especially on ways to improve immune responses to protozoa parasites. We also improve existing vaccines (ECF, CBPP) and develop molecular approaches to problems.