Farmscape for October 17, 2019
Researchers with the University of Saskatchewan are examining the prospects of harnessing the bacteria that live in the gut of the pig to boost the effectiveness of vaccines administered to protect against disease.
The microbiome, the population of microorganisms that reside in the gut, play a key role in the physiology of the pig while vaccines are used to train the immune system by stimulating an immune response to specific diseases.
Dr. Matheus Costa, an Adjunct Professor with the University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine and an Assistant Professor with the University of Minnesota, explains the microbial population in the gut stimulates development of the digestive tract, aids digestion and plays a key role in modulating the immune system.
Clip-Dr. Matheus Costa-University of Saskatchewan:
Initially, when we thought about the microbiome and using it as a vaccine booster, the preliminary idea was that we would target intestinal pathogens because we're interested in the intestinal microbiome.
Therefore it would make sense that at first we'll deal with intestinal pathogens.
Examples of those would be Rotavirus or Salmonella.
We're learning though that the impact of modulating the intestinal microbiome goes beyond the intestine.
It actually may have an impact on systemic infections.
We could use the microbiome of the intestine to improve the vaccine response to influenza, which is an infection of the lungs.
We know that some bacteria are associated with a pro-inflammatory, so an inflammation response, while others are associated with an anti-inflammatory response.
What we're trying to understand now is how can we select this helpful bacteria that will stimulate a positive immune response and use that to boost vaccine.
Can we have more of this helpful bacteria that will train the immune system more efficiently.
This would essentially result in more antibodies and thus better protection.
Dr. Costa says laboratory assessments show great promise and the hope is to move to animal trials soon.
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