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S. suis vaccine development in Canada

S. suis vaccine development in Canada

The federal government is dedicating funding to the development of a vaccine to help reduce antimicrobial use

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer 

The government of Canada is providing $356,525 to Swine Innovation Porc to develop a vaccine to protect pigs against Streptococcus suis (S. suis), according to a June 2 release from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. 

“Streptococcus suis-related diseases are one of the most common infectious problems reported on Canadian swine farms,” said Dr. Marcelo Gottschalk, a professor at the University of Montreal, in a research summary on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc. “Most importantly for producers, outbreaks of S. suis disease result in decreased performance and increased mortality, which have a significant economic impact.”

S. suis can also cause illness in humans, particularly those who work in the pork industry, he explained. So, finding a suitable vaccine is a priority from an economic and health perspective. 

“Scientists have recently developed a sub-unit prototype vaccine based on a patent-protected protein -Sao - which induces partial protection against S. suis,” Gottschalk said. 

However, to improve protection, antibodies must also be developed against the sugar capsule that the Step suis bacteria uses to protect itself, he explained. 

“Producing the capsule for a vaccine is difficult and costly. Researchers have produced different synthetic sugars to be combined with a protein to induce anti-capsular antibodies, which will be protective, and different prototypes are presently being tested,” he added. 

Autogenous vaccines currently only provide partial protection and incur a high costs to producers. 

“With an effective commercial vaccine, the industry can reduce antimicrobial use, improve animal welfare, and better respond to variations in market trends, including organic meat. Better control of S. suis diseases will increase the health status of Canadian farms, including ‘raised without antibiotic’ farms, thereby boosting competitiveness,” Gottschalk explained. 

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