Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Texas A&M partners with Zoetis to establishes animal vaccine research facility

By David Schwartz
Published: November 5th, 2019

Texas A&M University’s Health Science Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM) has signed an agreement with animal health company Zoetis to establish a facility for developing transboundary and emerging disease vaccines — including for Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), a virus that can cause serious illness in cattle, pigs, and sheep. Working with Zoetis scientists, CIADM staff will collaborate in the development of processes, assays, and formulations used to produce new vaccines.

As part of the agreement, Zoetis is building a 12,800-square-foot, secure biocontainment lab off-campus. The Transboundary and Emerging Disease Vaccine Development Facility is expected to start operating in mid-2020, pending approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to receive strains of the Zoetis FMD vaccine platform that are non-infectious to cattle and other livestock – and therefore, cannot cause the disease. While FMD vaccines will be the center’s initial focus, the facility can be expanded to accommodate vaccine development for other emerging diseases in the future.

While FMD is not harmful to humans, livestock animals worldwide are highly susceptible to FMD viruses, and an unchecked spread of FMD could be economically devastating. Though the U.S. eradicated the disease nearly a century ago in America, many countries across the globe continue to deal with FMD in their livestock populations. One role of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is to ensure FMD does not reenter the country.

In April 2018, the USDA granted Zoetis authorization to develop vaccines using a modified, non-infectious FMD-LL3B3D vaccine platform in the U.S. Through its collaboration with Texas A&M, Zoetis is now moving forward to safely develop an FMD vaccine that is not infectious and cannot transmit among livestock. With this vaccine platform, regulatory authorities and veterinarians may be able to distinguish between animals that have been vaccinated and those with natural FMD virus infection — which would help protect export markets for U.S.-raised meat.

“We are proud to be working with Texas A&M in the development of this critical vaccine to protect the health of livestock in the U.S. and markets around the world. FMD is one of the most serious diseases for livestock owners, and through an innovative vaccine platform, we can help them reduce the risk of an outbreak and avoid significant economic losses,” said Dr. John Hardham, research director in global biologics research and director of the Zoetis Center for Transboundary and Emerging Diseases. “By combining our internal innovation efforts with world-class research institutions such as Texas A&M, Zoetis is in the best position to bring veterinarians and livestock producers solutions to better predict, prevent, detect and treat disease in the animals under their care.”

“I am pleased that Zoetis decided to establish a collaborative effort with CIADM to develop critical animal vaccines” noted Dr. William Jay Treat, chief manufacturing officer for CIADM. “Our combined efforts to bring critical foot-and-mouth vaccines to the veterinarian market utilizing the novel Zoetis platform will be of significant benefit to both Texas and livestock communities around the world. It is an outstanding entrepreneurial opportunity for the A&M Health Science Center to play a key role in Zoetis’ vaccine efforts.”

As part of establishing the new facility, the CIADM program expects initially to hire up to eight staff scientists in College Station by the first quarter of 2020. 

Source: Drovers

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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