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AWI announces $2.5 million investment in flystrike vaccination research
The $2.5 million four-year research investment is a collaboration between AWI, the University of Melbourne and CSIRO to undertake preliminary research into the development of a flystrike vaccine targeting the Australian sheep blowfly (Lucilia cuprina).
AWI General Manager for Research, Dr Jane Littlejohn explained the Flystrike Vaccine project is expected to deliver an advanced flystrike prevention tool, providing whole animal protection.
“The investigation includes a detailed blowfly population study, led by the University of Melbourne, during the next three flystrike seasons across all Australian states. This research will identify any differences in the genetics of blowflies from different regions of Australia,” Dr Littlejohn shared.
University of Melbourne researcher Dr Trent Perry said that the population sampling data is essential for any effective control strategies contribute to our identification of potential candidate antigens, the development of chemical treatment protocols and monitoring of insecticide resistance.
“The second component of the University of Melbourne project is to detect the proteins and molecules released by both the blowfly larvae and the affected sheep during flystrike, which will determine the type, timing and magnitude of the sheep immune response during a strike,” Dr Perry explained.
CSIRO Senior Experimental Scientist and Flystrike Vaccine research lead Dr Tony Vuocolo highlighted the CSIRO has identified a group of candidates that are involved in blowfly larval establishment and growth on sheep.
“We believe that targeting these proteins through a vaccine has the potential to inhibit larval growth and ultimately kill the blowfly larvae,” Dr Vuocolo said.
“The candidate antigens identified as inducing a strong immune response in sheep and that severely impact early fly larval development will be developed further with the aim to develop a commercial vaccine with a VetPharma partner. If successful, this project will culminate in a flystrike vaccine that will protect sheep right across Australia.”
Dr Jane Littlejohn added, “A number of previous AWI-funded projects have enabled the advancement of the science and we have committed to the investigation of the development of a flystrike vaccine on the back of this research. A flystrike prevention tool of this kind has never before been realised.”
AWI is a not-for-profit company that invests in research and development (R&D), and marketing to increase the long-term profitability of Australian woolgrowers.
AWI is funded primarily through a wool levy paid by woolgrowers and a matching contribution from the Federal Government for eligible R&D activities that are capped at 0.5% of the value of gross national value of wool production.