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Zoetis: New European Research Centre Specialising in Livestock Disease

28 October 2014

EU - A new European research centre, comprising a collaborative network of veterinarians, scientists and technical specialists with a coordinating hub in Edinburgh, Scotland, aims to identify emerging diseases in livestock and companion animals, and enhance the ability to control them.

This centre of excellence is a collaboration between the Easter Bush Research Consortium (EBRC) and global animal health company, Zoetis. This collaboration forms a part of Zoetis’ European and global efforts to combat Emerging Infectious Diseases in animals and will work with veterinarians and other researchers throughout Europe and beyond.

It will draw on the unique expertise of each consortium member to help rapidly identify and combat emerging diseases in animals and help protect the livelihoods of those who raise and care for them.

Capacity to Genetically Sequence and Rapidly Identify Emerging Diseases

This cluster brings together expertise in pathology, rapid genetic sequencing and molecular biology from University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies; laboratory diagnostic and surveillance expertise from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC); and high contaminant level laboratories and expertise in infectious diseases from the Moredun Research Institute and integrates them with the research and development and specialised infectious disease capabilities of Zoetis.

The company’s technical specialist network across Europe will assist in identifying initial disease signs and work in concert with EBRC scientists and clinicians. “Zoetis is committed to supporting the veterinary community with research to better understand emerging infectious diseases,” said Michelle Haven, a veterinarian and senior vice president, Corporate Development, Alliances and Solutions at Zoetis.

“Enhanced surveillance to identify these threats early makes it possible to speed development of high quality, effective medicines and vaccines to help control these diseases. By working together, we can advance unique solutions to the evolving and complex threats of emerging infectious diseases in Europe.”

The consortium will bring together subject experts necessary for surveillance and rapid response to emerging infectious disease to form a unique multidisciplinary team with privileged access to the state of the art facilities, laboratories and infrastructure already in place under the auspices of the EBRC.

It will therefore be in a strong position to act immediately to investigate potential suspected cases of new pathogens, and where appropriate, to rapidly progress them in developing diagnostic and/or prophylactic tools to control them effectively.

Cutting Edge Technologies for the Benefits of Human and Animal Health

“Being able to track new diseases as they emerge, and making sure we are prepared for them, is essential in order to help the vet and farming communities whose livelihood depends on a strong offence to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks and pandemics,” said Professor Geoff Simm, vice principal of SRUC.

“A number of potential threats exist within the European area, extending through to Africa and the Middle East as well. And with some 75 per cent of emerging human infections originating from animals – including ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and avian influenza – it is vital that we monitor and manage new threats as soon as they begin to appear.”

Professor David Hume, Director of The Roslin Institute which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, added that new pathogens are increasingly being diagnosed by sequencing genomes.

He said: “What we hope to do is identify at a very early stage any new disease appearing in Europe and, reaching out to our partners in Africa and Asia, to pre-identify potential threats, fully sequence them very quickly, and identify routes to diagnostics and therapeutics. So it’s a perfect partnership.”

The sentiment was echoed by Professor David Argyle, Head of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, who added: “The veterinary profession has to play a major role in trying to eradicate or control those diseases. So the collaboration between the EBRC partners and Zoetis in Europe is incredibly important, not just for our research programme but in terms of control of diseases worldwide.”

Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, Director of the Moredun Research Institute agreed, adding: “The interaction with Zoetis on emerging infectious diseases has brought a new way of working: early detection of new and existing pathogens. It will allow research and development activities to focus on outputs which will be useful to livestock health and welfare and therefore have a global impact.”

Theo Kanellos concluded: “This collaborative approach between academia, research institutes and industry, provides a unique methodology for combating emerging diseases for the benefit of animal and human health and puts this partnership at the cutting edge of animal research in Europe.”

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