Call for SR&TD Project Grants - 2017
Biotechnological Innovative Solutions for the Control of Bovine Genital Campylobacteriosis
Maria Elisabete Tomé Sousa Silva
Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária
Veterinary Science

Agricultural Biotechnology

No items to show...
This project considers the development of innovative biotechnological solutions for the control of Bovine Genital Campylobacteriosis (BGC), a disease which significantly decreases the reproductive performance and profitability of beef cow and calf feedlot herds worldwide. BGC is a notifiable disease of Office International des Epizooties, with socio-economic significance. Recently, BGC has been diagnosed in Europe, including Portugal, representing a threat to the cattle industry. The project includes 4 main goals to be accomplished in 3 years.
The strategy chosen will firstly focus on the genetic characterization of field isolates of Campylobacter fetus subsp. venerealis (Cfv), the causal agent of BGC, including the genetic diversity, virulence potential and antimicrobial susceptibility. Isolates will be collected from bulls, breeding females, calves and from the environment. Simultaneously, the project work includes the refinement of a molecular diagnostic tool (a triplex qRT-PCR assay) for the highly specific and sensitive detection of Cfv in biological and environmental samples. This tool, addressing current inconsistencies and low efficiency of available diagnostics methods, will be suitable for patenting and production of a diagnostic kit of commercial interest for the biopharmaceutical industry.  Altogether, this first approach will hopefully elucidate unresolved aspects of the epidemiology and pathogenesis of BGC, namely the role of environment and pre-breeding stock as reservoirs of Cfv.
BGC control has relied on culling of infected animals and/or vaccination, as treatment is largely ineffective, economically prohibitive and logistically impractical. Currently, there is no vaccine against BGC registered in Europe, and there are concerns about the level of protection conveyed by Cfv strains isolated elsewhere. To address BGC control, autogenous vaccines will be developed and its effects on beef cow reproductive performance evaluated. This approach will be suitable for patenting and of interest for a pharmaceutical company (Medinfar). Additionally, the project considers the screening and validation of vaccine targets. These targets, subject to patenting, will certainly be of interest for the biopharmaceutical industry, for future development of a commercial vaccine.
This project is of multidisciplinary nature, combining approaches from microbiology, immunology, molecular biology, reproductive biology, epidemiology and pathobiology. It comprises fundamental and applied research, including veterinary translational clinical research, linking generation of novel knowledge to industrial biopharmaceutical applications. The outputs of the project will be channeled to the scientific community through publications in indexed peer-reviewed journals and communications, but also to other stakeholders of the beef industry, veterinary services and pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries.
Bovine Genital CampylobacteriosisMolecular DiagnosticsVaccineEpidemiology