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Cow vaccines go vroom
Date:8/17/2010

enes found in most vertebrate animals, including cows. It plays a key role in regulating T-cells, that, in turn, help the organism recognize and attack a wide range of foreigners -- like the foot-and-mouth virus or the parasite the carries East Coast fever. To accomplish this complex task, the MHC itself is a complex set of protein molecules that vary dramatically between individuals -- which is part of the reason some individuals catch a disease while others don't.

"We want to understand the diversity of those molecules within cattle populations," says Barlow. The tetramer technology provides synthetic MHC proteins that act much like the real ones. This allows researchers to largely sidestep the traditional method of infecting an animal with the disease, waiting for the infection, and then extracting tissue.

"Tetramer technology allows us to efficiently and cheaply evaluate the T-cell response, to either natural infections or vaccines," using core research facilities at the University of Vermont medical school, says Barlow. This technology will be combined with several others, including advanced bioinformatics techniques to sort through the soup of genetic data. All of which promises to provide basic science insights needed for faster and more accurate development of vaccines in developing countries.

Barlow is quick to point out that none of the cows in the UVM herd will be exposed to any diseases -- they're just providing the resource that a highly inbred research herd allows when trying to look at the range of genetic responses. "Then, in later years in the project, we'll start to test vaccines in herds in Africa," he says.

"We can get the data we need without having to expose many animals to the actual diseases," says Barlow's colleague Bill Golde at the USDA's Plum Island Animal Disease Center. The sequestered animals at this center will be the only ones tested with the actual diseases once promising vaccine candidates have b
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Contact: Joshua Brown
joshua.e.brown@uvm.edu
802-656-3039
University of Vermont
Source:Eurekalert

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