VIDO awarded over a million dollars for innovative research projects

Jan 26, 2023

Five VIDO scientists were awarded over $1 million in total from Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF)—a program jointly funded by the provincial and federal governments. This fund supports the development of solutions to emerging problems of the Saskatchewan agriculture industry.

Funded projects include:

Exploring ‘trained immunity molecules’ in swine

The live tuberculosis (TB) vaccine (bacille Calmette-Guerin or BCG) provokes a unique immune response called ‘trained immunity’ that provides protection against TB and several unrelated infections. Mycobacteria, including BCG, produce a diverse array of complex sugar and fat molecules on their cell surface that are immunomodulatory and likely responsible for this ‘trained immunity’ response.

A team led by Jeffrey Chen will investigate if these sugar and fat molecules can also drive trained immunity in pigs and will subsequently determine if these molecules can be used to protect pigs against Ileitis and African Swine Fever.

A new approach to Johne’s Disease

Johne’s disease, caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), is a persistent debilitating disease that results in chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract in cattle. An estimated US$198 million in the United States, and between US$17-28 million in Canada is lost due to Johne's disease in dairy cattle annually.

To protect cattle against MAP, Antonio Facciuolo’s team will investigate key vaccine properties that are important to the development of a vaccine including: the type of immune response that can provide long lasting protection, if an oral vaccine provides better protection than an injectable vaccine, when a vaccine should be administered to provide optimal protection, and identifying specific MAP proteins that can be used in a subunit vaccine.

Analyzing antibody concentration in beef calves

The vaccines used in commercial cow-calf operations can influence development of immunity in young calves and may impact decisions regarding the most appropriate vaccines given to calves early in life. A team led by Philip Griebel will determine whether vaccinating pregnant cattle with a killed virus vaccine results in the transfer of high levels of maternal antibodies to calves.

A bivalent subunit vaccine for porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV)

New variants of PEDV have emerged causing outbreaks in USA and Canada, causing additional losses to the pork industry. To increase protection, Qiang Liu’s team is developing a more broadly protective bivalent subunit vaccine to protect pigs from the PEDV variants that are currently circulating in North America.

A single shot foot rot vaccine for use in cattle

Foot rot is one of the most frequent infectious diseases in beef cattle. A team led by Jose Perez-Casal is developing a single dose multivalent vaccine to provide broader protection against foot rot. The vaccine will include Fusobacteriu necrophorum isolated from feedlots in Saskatchewan and Alberta along with antigens of other pathogens associated with foot rot.

Click to read more about the ADF announcement: USask awarded $5.2 million for innovative research projects