Scientist gets £240,000 grant for improved bovine TB vaccine

Scientists have been awarded a grant of nearly a quarter of a million pounds to further their development of an “improved” bovine TB vaccine.

The £240,000 Follow-on Funding grant was awarded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to Jean van den Elsen, a structural biologist from the University of Bath’s department of biology and biochemistry.

His research – conducted in collaboration with Andrew Watts from the department of pharmacy and pharmacology at the University of Bath and Kevin Marchbank from the medical school at Newcastle University – centres on a new protein developed in Dr van den Elsen’s lab.

It has been found to trigger an immune response that protects against pathogens, including the bacteria that causes TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

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Dr van den Elsen and his colleagues believe the protein could be used to produce a single-dose vaccine – potentially reducing vaccinations costs – and will spend the next 18 months attempting to demonstrate its effectiveness.

Jean van den Elsen

Jean van den Elsen

“Worldwide bovine tuberculosis can cause severe economic losses from livestock deaths, chronic disease and trade restrictions,” says Dr van den Elsen.

“We’re aiming to improve a vaccine’s ability to be given on a single dose bases and improve rates of protection, which would vastly reduce vaccination costs and provide increased safety,” he adds.