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Greater Understanding of Brachyspira Expected to Lead to New Strategies for Prevention

Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine are hopeful a greater understanding of the factors that determine the severity of Brachyspira associated diarrhea will lead to new strategies to prevent the infection in pigs. Certain strains of Brachyspira can cause symptoms in pigs ranging from mild diarrhea to severe mucosal hemorrhagic dysentery.

Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine have determined mutations of the TlyA protein, one of the more than three thousand proteins that make up Brachyspira, is a key factor in determining the severity of Brachyspira associated diarrhea in swine.

Dr. Matt Loewen, an Associate Professor in Veterinary Medical Biosciences with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says, in looking at less pathogenic strains, researchers have found these mutations potentially disrupt the function of the organism rendering it less virulent.

Clip-Dr. Matt Loewen-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:

I think at this point it's pretty much baby steps in understanding the disease. We still have a lot more to do. We need a very broad understanding of how the disease works in order to combat it. It's been around for almost 100 years and we're still dealing with it and so this is one small piece of the pie.

I think the big one is we just really need to know all of the on and off switches of this disease. It would appear that TlyA is one of the on switches so right now we're trying to figure out that and then, once we figure out that, I think that is when this will assist breeding programs to develop pigs that potentially would be less susceptible to Brachyspira. I should make the point that that's a very simplistic look at things.

I know that there's lots of issues with doing that but that's the general idea. The other thing is that, now that we know that this TlyA is an important factor in the virulence of these bacteria, I think as new strains appear it will help up with the understanding of is this a virulent strain, is this something else, knowing that this protein and a certain sequence of this protein is important for the virulence and severity of the disease.

Source : Farmscape

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