Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization -
International Vaccine Centre

Development of novel vaccine for newborns against Lawsonia intracellularis: a platform technology

Project Leader: Heather L. Wilson

Oral vaccine development is challenging. The mucosal immune system is primed to ignore antigens of the gut as it is constantly exposed to food antigens and ‘good’ commensal bacteria and barriers like tight junctions between epithelial cells and thick mucus prevent gut wall breaches. However, the neonatal gut is special in that the tight junctions between the epithelial cells are not firmly established to allow uptake of colostral antibodies.

Using Ileitis as a disease model, we will assess if oral vaccine antigens can traverse the gut wall and trigger a strong mucosal immune response with the ultimate goal of developing an oral (mucosal) vaccine. This vaccine against Ileitis, caused by the bacteria Lawsonia intracellularis, will ultimately prevent loss of piglet growth due to gut wall lesions, decrease mortality in the herd and will reduce shedding of the pathogen.


  • Precisely define when the piglet gut is permeable to antigen
  • Develop a safe, effective mucosal vaccine against L. intracellularis in neonatal piglets
  • Monitor immunity to the oral neonatal vaccine and evaluate the degree to which the vaccine protects against L. intracellularis infection