AU$1.94 Million Grant to Develop <i>E. coli</i> Vaccine

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - Protecting Queensland's beef industry whilst reducing food poisoning outbreaks in humans is the aim of Dr Rowland Cobbold, a researcher from UQ's School of Veterinary Science.
calendar icon 19 May 2009
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Dr Cobbold leads a team which was today awarded a $1.94 million Smart Futures Grant from the Queensland Government to develop an E. coli vaccine for cattle.

"E. coli poses a significant market access threat to Queensland's $3.6 billion export beef trade," Dr Cobbold said.

"Australia is the largest beef exporter in the world so there are direct economic benefits in maintaining its clean and green image.

"Many countries, including the USA, have stringent trade requirements with respect to E. coli, requiring prescriptive quality assurance and testing protocols.

"To remain competitive in the marketplace and protect Australia's export beef industry, Australia needs to be proactively working towards minimising risks of beef contamination with E. coli.

"This vaccine would be designed for Australian conditions, but aims to be ultimately marketable across the world.”

The three-year project, which is supported by the Smart Futures Fund National and International Research Alliances Program, will bring together scientists from UQ, the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, CSIRO Food Science Australia, Washington State University and the Washington Vaccine Alliance.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield commended the Queensland Government for recognising the strength of this project, and congratulated Dr Cobbold and his team.

"This project builds on an important 15-year collaboration between the Queensland partners and Washington State University, and is an example of how international research relationships generate economic, health and social benefits," Professor Greenfield said.

E. coli is a bacterium commonly found in the intestine of most animals, including cattle.

The proposed vaccine would protect against enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) – the strains which are most harmful to humans.

"Cattle are the principal reservoir for EHEC, and consumption of contaminated beef is a recognised source of transmission to humans," Dr Cobbold said.

"EHEC are a significant human health threat, causing diseases ranging from diarrhoea to systemic illness including acute renal failure and occasionally death.”

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