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VTT develops piglet vaccination to reduce antibiotics use
Vaccine to help with the global issue of antimicrobial resistance

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, a research, development and innovation organisation has developed a vaccine, diluted into drinking water, to treat diarrhoea on piglets being weaned. The vaccine reduces the global resistance problem caused by excessive antibiotic use.

The vaccine is a new type of product which can replace antimicrobial drugs, such as zinc oxide, used in pig production. Bacterial strains resistant to antibiotics can potentially become a global health threat. According to the World Health Organisation, this means that antibiotics no longer have the same effectiveness. This increases human and animal illness and mortality and increases health care costs. Resistance to antibiotics has become one of the most serious threats to medicine and veterinary medicine. Globally, up to 70 per cent of antibiotics are used on animals, especially farm animals.

“The vaccine’s production method has proved to be very effective, and it can also be used in the development of other animal vaccines. The method may be available commercially already in the next few years,” says principal scientist, Jussi Joensuu of VTT.

Before that, it must be shown in practice that the vaccine is effective and safe. The first animal test was carried out this summer in Belgium, and its efficiency are promising.

“When administered in drinking water, the vaccine offers protection exactly where it is needed, namely in the intestine. If the vaccine was injected, most of the antibodies would remain in the bloodstream,” says Joensuu.

When still suckling, piglets get enough protection from the sow’s milk. The disease emerges when piglets go from liquids to solids, enabling harmful bacteria – usually E. coli – to attach to the intestine. At this stage, the piglet’s own antibody production is only starting, and pathogenic bacteria get a foothold in the small intestine leading to diarrhoea. The piglet suffers, its growth slows down and in extreme cases, the diarrhoea causes death. Piglet scour is estimated to cause annual losses of one to two billion euros globally.

The vaccine is administered to piglets in drinking water after weaning. The piglet’s immune system will recognise the vaccine molecule and start creating antibodies against the bacteria. The antibodies will prevent bacteria from attaching to the receptors in the small intestine, thereby preventing diarrhoea.

Currently porcine post weaning diarrhoea is prevented by means of, diet, hygienic rearing conditions and antibiotics.

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EDITORS' CHOICE  
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APBN Editorial Calendar 2018
January:
Obesity / Outlook for 2018
February:
Searching for the fountain of youth
March:
Women in Science - Making a difference
April:
Digestive health in the 21st century - Trust your guts
May:
Dental health - The root to good health
June:
Cancer - Therapies and strategies for better patient outcomes
July:
Water management - Technologies for biotech and pharmaceutical industries
August:
Regenerative technology - Meat of the future
September:
Doctor Robot - The digital healthcare revolution
October:
Bones / Breast cancer
November:
Liver health / Top science research nations & institutions
December:
AIDS / Breakthrough of the year/Emerging trends
Editorial calendar is subjected to changes.
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