What is PARAVAC?

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Is an EU funded global consortium of Universities and organizations who aim to produce vaccines against parasites which cause great economic losses and impact on the health and welfare of humans and their livestock.

PARAVAC will create commercially viable vaccines from work undertaken in an academic environment

What is a vaccine?

A vaccine consists of a dead/weakened organism, or a molecule derived from a disease-causing organism (antigen), and is used to stimulate (vaccination) the immune system of the animal. The aim of vaccination is to generate a long term sensitisation of the immune system of an animal or individual to the disease, so that upon later exposure the immune system will be quick to react to eliminate or control the disease.

Some vaccines are mixed with adjuvants, which are chemicals designed to increase the protective immune response generated by the vaccine.

New technologies allow scientists to produce parasite proteins in surrogate systems (such as in yeast or bacteria) in large scale using a technique called recombinant vaccine production.

What are the benefits from the project?

The world populations of cattle, sheep and goats are estimated at 1.3, 1.0 and 0.8 billion animals, respectively. Livestock farming is socially, economically and politically very significant for the EU. The current value of farm-level animal production to the EU is over Euro130 billion; farmers represent >8% of the workforce, and farms employ >15 million people.

Farming is also central to sustainable rural communities throughout Europe and is the basis of survival for many of the world’s subsistence farmers and their communities.

Parasitic infections are the most common cause of livestock diseases. The main impact of these infections is the reduction in production efficiency and, although death of animals may occur in some cases, significant effects on meat, milk and wool production can occur with no overt signs of disease.

Worm infections cause millions of euro worth of damage to farmers every year. The annual market for anthelmintic drugs is estimated at 3 billion US dollars globally. In Europe, alone, the annual spend approaches 1 billion euro.

Unfortunately, reports of drug resistance with many different parasites are increasing in numbers by the recent years. Accordingly, vaccines against parasites would be a valuable tool for the control of helminthosis.

Controlling these infections will help the farmers to increase production which will in turn improve both cost and guaranteed food quality for the consumer.

Other advantages of the project are the chance for scientists and researchers from various disciplines to work together to create innovative approaches to disease control, and the transfer of this knowledge from bench to field.