Commercial development is underway for a third E. coli O157:H7 vaccine for cattle to help prevent human illnesses with a Nebraska field trial set to begin soon.

Two North American vaccines developed since 2010 have proven their effectiveness, but for various reasons, including cost, they remain in limited demand in the marketplace.

A Scottish venture, led by Rosin Technologies in an agreement with Moredun Research Institute, Scotland’s Rural Collge and Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, has agreed to a commercial funding agreement for the third vaccine.

Roslin Technologies COO, Simon Wheeler, is the leader of the project. Principal investigators, professor David Gally of the Roslin Institute and Tom McNeilly of the Moredun Research Institute, will provide significant input.

“Drs. David Gally and Tom McNeilly performed extensive initial research on the vaccine ” Wheeler said. “They’ve been doing the fundamental research necessary to understand whether the vaccine works and the essential science behind it.”

Wheeler says the team remains intact as the vaccine reaches commercial development.

According to the new funding agreement, Roslin Technologies will perform a two-step validation trial from May to September 2020 in Nebraska.

“The biggest market for this vaccine is the USA and South America,” said McNeilly. “To be commercially viable one has to show the vaccine works in their systems.

“We have a wonderful collaboration with the USDA, and they’ve agreed to run a field trial in Nebraska with the help of Roslin Technologies.”

A license for the third vaccine will require positive results from large scale trials, including those involving the U.S. feedlots. McNeilly and Gally will design and execute the field trials, monitor the cattle, administer the vaccine, and collect the data.

“I’m delighted that Roslin Technologies has invested in the vaccine as it allows the chance for what’s been over a decade of work, investment and research go to the next phase,” Gally said.

He also said the investment means the Scottish team “can build collaboration with U.S. partners to understand how the vaccine works.”

The experimental vaccine works by limiting E. coli O157:H7 shedding from and transmission between cattle. Although the bacteria do not harm the cattle, farmers, and ranchers will be encouraged to vaccinate animals against infection to prevent future harm to humans.

The team is looking for results that are both more effective and more affordable than the two vaccines developed in the U.S. and Canada.

As it moved to the commercial phase, Rosin Technologies put its chief technology officer, professor Jacqui Matthews, in overall charge of the vaccine project.

E. coli O157:H7 is a serotype of the bacterial species Escherichia coli and is one of the Shiga toxin-producing types of E. coli. It is a cause of disease in people, typically foodborne illness, through consumption of contaminated and/or raw food, including unpasteurized milk and undercooked ground beef.

The United States, along with the United Kingdom, Argentina, and Sweden, has clusters of more virulent strains of the pathogen. According to Roslin Technologies, E. coli O157:H7 causes 1 to 10 infections per 100,000 people.

People are at risk when they come in contact with cattle feces or indirect contact with contaminated water, food, or the environment.  E. coli O157: H7 can cause everything from diarrhea to renal failure from the toxins produced by the bacteria.

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