The science behind PARAVAC

PARAVAC is an ambitious project aimed at taking a number of existing academically proven vaccines for parasitic infections in livestock and making these into useful commercial tools for farmers and veterinarians.

Although many see science and science discovery as a number of individuals having "Eureka" breakthrough moments, most science used in society is the result of long hours and collaborative work by many people.

Furthermore the process of an actual scientific breakthrough is often only the first small step in a useful introduction into society.  Scaling the development up in a usable, sustainable way is the part where many discoveries lose their way.

The PARAVAC project is designed to help and improve this process by taking scientifically promising breakthroughs and getting them on the road to being an everyday commercial product as soon as possible.

Here's a quick look at the work involved in PARAVAC:


But what's that?

 

Antigen discovery – an antigen is a particle from an agent, in this case a parasite, which is capable of inducing an immune response, i.e. the production of antibodies. So the scientists try to find and isolate the part of the parasite (antigen) which has the best power of inducing these responses.

Antigen structure analysis – scientists analyse the antigen related to its structure, i.e. if it is stable enough to be carried in a vaccine.

Recombinant antigens – extracting this antigens from the parasites themselves is a very expensive process and in this step the scientists aim to produce them in vitro, in quantities big enough so they can be used for vaccines.

Host-parasite interactions –  is the study of what happens when a parasite is inside the body of a host, i.e. what immune responses are generated by the host, which of them are protective and how the parasite defends itself from host reactions.

Improved antigen delivery – injecting antigens only in the body of the hosts may not create significant immune responses, so different substances are used for stimulating the immune system. They are called adjuvants and are very important for the efficacy of vaccines.

Experimental vaccine – after the selection of antigens and adjuvants, small scale clinical trials are carried out with animals for evaluating the protective levels conferred by the vaccine for infected hosts.

Field trials-proofs of principle – with the best experimental vaccines tested in clinical trials, large scale field trials are done, with common animals, so we can see how the vaccine works in real farms.

Determination of vaccine efficacy requirements – is how much a vaccine needs to be effective for providing protection to the hosts, i.e. the amount of decrease in worm numbers from individuals would be necessary for protecting a herd.

Guidelines for integrated use of vaccines – which parameters should be chosen for helping owners/famers with combining the use of different vaccines in a best and smart way.

Business plans for helminth vaccines – designing plans for introducing the new vaccines in the market.

Vaccine commercialisation – presenting the new vaccines for owners, farmers and veterinarians to use.



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