A two-year cooperative study to produce new vaccines for foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is underway at USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute in South Africa.

Constant mutation by the FMD virus makes it hard for a vaccine to stay effective. The cooperating scientists are using genetic engineering to develop better vaccines that respond to changes in the virus.

ARS is partnering with an international laboratory because U.S. companies cannot produce vaccines from killed FMD virus on the U.S. mainland. The South African laboratory was chosen because of its international status and its work on a number of FMD strains indigenous to Africa.

FMD has not appeared in the U.S. in more than 70 years, but limiting its presence overseas helps protect U.S. livestock.

For more information, contact the ARS information staff at 301/504-1617.

Immunostimulant products with synthetic bacterial DNA have the potential to enhance an animal's natural immune response to a number of diseases. That's according to researchers at the University of Saskatchewan's Veterinary Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) in Saskatoon.

Recent VIDO studies have confirmed that synthetic bacterial DNA can activate the immune system in cattle.

Researchers explain that bacterial DNA is structured differently than mammalian DNA. The animal's immune system recognizes this structural difference as a “danger” signal and triggers a response that heightens the defenses against a number of infections.

Though such products are still a number of years away, they would be beneficial in cattle arriving at feedlots or in any situation in which a producer doesn't know what disease to expect.

What's more, researchers claim this method of enhancing the immune response could prove cost-effective for producers. They would potentially use fewer vaccines and get a broader disease-fighting capability in their livestock.

Cattle are the main focus of this research, which is currently focused on optimizing formulation, dosage and delivery of the immunostimulants.

Initially, the products would be delivered by needle injection, but eventually they could be administered using one of the alternative vaccine delivery systems under development at VIDO — such as intranasal sprays.

For more information, contact VIDO at 306/966-7465 or visit www.vido.org.

Submit items for “Research Round-up” to Diana Barto at dbarto@primediabusiness.com or fax to 952/851-4601.