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Weekly Overview: Significant Advances Made in Disease Control

28 March 2013

ANALYSIS - Scientists in the UK have developed a new synthetic vaccine, which is being hailed as the start of a new era in vaccine development. A probiotic undergoing testing as a measure to control necrotic enteritis, and it has been established that MRSA can be transferred from animals to humans. Low-path bird flu has been discovered in the Netherlands and Germany. A new study examines global water use and steps to address water scarcity, and EU labelling laws for foods - including poultry meat - are set to get a lot more complicated.

A new synthetic vaccine could signal a new era in vaccine development. These latest developments are the result of collaborative research between Professor David Stuart, University of Oxford, and Dr Bryan Charleston, Head of Livestock Viral Diseases Programme at The Pirbright Institute.

They have developed an entirely synthetic vaccine that triggers response through minute protein shells.

According to its developers, the development is 'the holy grail' of vaccines as it means that treatments can be developed without relying on the growth of live infectious virus. This will help reduce diseases spreading to disease-free areas and could also alter how viruses from the same family are fought, such as polio.

A strain of probiotic bacteria that can fight harmful bacterial infections in poultry has the ability to change its coat, according to new findings from the Institute of Food Research.

The probiotic is currently being taken forward through farm-scale trials to evaluate how well it combats Clostridium perfringens - a cause of necrotic enteritis in poultry and the second most common cause of food poisoning in the UK.

A new study has shown that MRSA - methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus - can be transmitted from animals to humans.

The study, entitled 'Whole genome sequencing identifies zoonotic transmission of MRSA isolates with the novel mecA homologue mecC', by researchers in the UK and Denmark, also shows the potential of whole genome sequencing in epidemiological investigations and source tracking of bacterial infections.

In the US, campaigning congresswoman, Louise Slaughter, has welcomed the research and has called on the US authorities to react by reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock.

Turning to other topics, last week, last Friday, 22 March, was World Water Day. It is held each year as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

At the same time as events were taking place around the world to mark the occasion and to highlight the importance and need for water sustainability, the Worldwatch Institute released a study examining global water use and steps to address water scarcity.

The complexities of food labelling regulations for European food producers and those exporting to the European Union are about to become a whole lot more complex.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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