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Next-generation cattle vaccine research expected to save millions

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Scientists at the University Of Queensland  are in the process of developing two advanced vaccines that stand to save the Queensland cattle industry more than $340 million a year.

Two teams are currently working on the next generation of animal health solutions.

Along with partners at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), Dr Neena Mitter, a Senior Research Fellow at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) is leading an international team using nanotechnology to deliver a powerful new vaccine that is expected to reduce the incidence of three bovine diseases, which cost Australian producers more than $200 million annually.

Dr Mitter's $3.8 million nano-vaccine project is the culmination of several years of research by AIBN scientists, Queensland Government scientists, Washington State University and Pfizer Animal Health Australia. A key aim of the project was to deliver immunity to more than one disease in a single formulation, creating a platform for nano-vaccine delivery for a single dose that's also stable at room temperature.

The vaccine would target three major animal health problems including bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV), bovine ephemeral fever (BEF) and cattle tick fever (Anaplasmosis). Collectively, these conditions are estimated to cost Queensland's $3.4 billion cattle industry about $200 million a year.

Meanwhile her QAAFI colleague, Senior Research Fellow Dr Tim Mahony is heading another team working on a polymer-based solution to combat cattle tick infestation.

Dr Mahony said cattle tick infestation was currently costing the Queensland economy about $146 million a year and his polymer-based anti-tick vaccine would be developed to work with industry practices to ensure greater adoption.

For instance, most beef industry enterprises can only muster their cattle once or twice a year due to costs and seasonal factors. Existing cattle vaccines that require two or more doses can be difficult to apply in extensive beef enterprises, whereas a safe and effective single-dose anti-tick vaccine would save the industry more than $140 million a year.

Key benefits of the bovine vaccines for the cattle industry:

  • Reduces the cost of vaccination through a single dose, annual treatment and reduced management costs 
  • Shelf-stable vaccines eliminate cold-chain storage while reducing carbon footprint and increasing export potential 
  • Adds value to Australia's $3.1 billion export potential through clean green image, improved animal welfare and best-practice adoption 
  • Maintains employment for 32,000 workers in the farm sector and creates new jobs through supply chain linkages for continued profitability of Queensland's beef sector 
  • Increases the manufacturing potential 
  • Reduces usage of pesticides and chemicals in primary industries

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