14 April 2000

Vaccines focus of DNA probe

NEW research work may bring a change in the nature of vaccines used to control diseases such as enzootic abortion in sheep and pasteurellosis in sheep and cattle.

A three-year combined project at Moredun Research Institute and Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh will look into DNA technology to develop more effective vaccines. The project has been granted £362,000 from the Scottish Executive and Scottish Higher Education Funding Council.

Moreduns deputy director Willy Donachie says using DNA technology will result in cheaper and safer vaccines. "These vaccines will be more specific and only take parts of the bacterial organism needed for the vaccine and not the whole lot, as is the case with current vaccines.

"This means they should be cleaner and safer to use as no other gunk is taken with the bacteria."

It is also cheaper because a whole organism does not have to be grown or multiplied, which can take a long time and is expensive. But it will take at least 10 years for these new types of vaccine to reach commercial production. &#42