The Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) announced today (31 Jan 2014) that a global consortium supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been formed to develop a new vaccine against a disease that’s devastating cattle herds in sub-Saharan Africa.
East Coast fever is an often-fatal affliction caused by a parasite transmitted to cattle through bites by infected ticks.
To develop a new vaccine, researchers will focus on recent breakthroughs that have isolated proteins in the parasite, called antigens, likely to be crucial in protecting cattle from East Coast fever. Some of the antigens appear capable of stimulating production of protective antibodies. Other parasite antigens could help endow the vaccine with the capacity to stimulate the cow’s production of a type of lymphocyte known as cytotoxic or ‘killer’ T cells that are able to target and destroy the cow’s white blood cells infected with the parasite. Results of the cattle research could profit malaria and cancer research.