Parasitism by gastrointestinal nematodes (parasitic worms which live in the gut) has a major impact on animal production worldwide. Nematode infections of sheep negatively affect health and welfare outcomes for infected animals.
The cost of parasitism in the UK is estimated at approximately £4 per lamb through reduced weight gain and treatment costs and the total cost to the Australian sheep and goat industry is estimated at more than AU$450 million each year. This inefficiency in production also impacts greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, affecting our ability to reach Net Zero targets unless we intervene.
Chemical treatments are the mainstay of parasite control programs for nematode infections, but resistance to these treatments severely undermines control options on-farm in many areas of the world. To allow a sustainable future for sheep farming, vaccines need to be developed.
Although much progress is being achieved in this area, much of it funded by significant investment from the Scottish Government, UKRI and others, development of a commercial worm vaccine is a long-term project. However, by combining their expertise in parasitology, immunology, and vaccine formulation, along with recent technological advances, the work of the partnership will significantly increase the chances of success.
“We are delighted to be able to lead this international team to develop our nematode vaccine technology further and push towards a commercial product to help control this major issue in the sheep industry in the UK and beyond.”
Dr Alasdair Nisbet, project lead from Moredun Research Institute
This project is co-funded by each of the partners with matched funding from the Australian Federal Government through the Meat & Livestock Australia Donor Company to a total value of just over £6M (AU$ 11M) over 5 years. More than half of the budget will come to the Scottish partners, with the intention to develop a commercially exploitable vaccine against the main gastrointestinal nematodes of sheep globally.
For further information please contact:
Dr Amy Tyndall
The Moredun Group
The Moredun Group is a farmer led organisation committed to promoting livestock health and welfare through research and education. Working on an international scale, our research focusses on developing vaccines, diagnostic tests and disease control strategies for endemic, infectious diseases of livestock and our outreach work is of prime importance to us to maintain our strong links with the livestock industry.
The University of New England is located in regional New South Wales and has been a leader in providing distance education to students across Australia and the world for over 60 years. Through our transformative and rurally-focused teaching and research, we address the needs of individuals and communities at all levels, and provide world-class solutions to the challenges facing us today and in the future.