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Genome breakthroughs aiding development of veterinary vaccines, says expert

Genome manipulation could be the key to developing vaccines for animal diseases that have proved tricky to protect against in the past.

This is the view of Jeremy Salt – GALVmed's chief scientific officer – who worked in vaccine development with Zoetis for around 17 years.

Ahead of next year's UK & International Veterinary Vaccinology Network Conference 2019 – where Dr Salt will be chairing the vaccine commercilization portion of the event – he told Animal Pharm: "The advent of a growing international market in animals and animal products potentially represents a risk of spread of infectious disease outside historical boundaries.

"Therefore, in the immediate future, it is imperative to address these infectious diseases at source and increasingly in their expanding geographies. Recent developments in high-throughput whole genome sequencing, reverse genetics and gene editing represent exciting opportunities for major international collaboration to understand the genomic function and evolution of infectious agents that cause disease in animal species.

"The ability to combine information on genetic variation and interpret that in the context of vaccine matching offers the opportunity to better control highly variable micro-organisms in the field, such as the foot-and-mouth disease virus. Through improved tools for genome editing and manipulation there is a realistic chance of developing vaccines for infectious diseases that have proved intractable in the past, through enhanced expression and investigation of individual gene product function.

"Similarly, for viral vaccines the prospect of molecularly-engineered cell lines that enhance growth of vaccine strains in commercial production or for research could be a major step forward."

The UK & International Veterinary Vaccinology Network Conference 2019 will be hosted in the Tower Hotel, London, UK on January 9-10. This conference brings together individuals from across the world with the aim of improving vaccines for livestock and zoonotic diseases both in the UK and internationally. The conference has four themes: vaccines for ectoparasites; vaccine commercialization; antigen discovery; and controlling antimicrobial resistance with vaccination.

Animal Pharm is the event's media partner. 

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