Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious virus passed from animal to animal. It hasn't been seen in the United States since 1929. The U.S.D.A. and U.S. cattle interests have every intention of keeping it that way, but it is common in parts of Africa and Asia.
"We're studying foot-and-mouth because it's a very small virus that is relatively easy to investigate and there is a strong motivation from the perspective of U.S. global disease control," says Barlow. "And for Sub-Saharan Africa it would be good if they could control it since it will improve their ability to export meat once it's controlled there."
In contrast, East Coast fever is caused by a large parasite with a large genome and complex lifecycle. "It is hugely important to the smaller shareholder farms in Africa as it kills many cattle," says Barlow. "Farmers there are very interested in eradicating and controlling both these diseases."
This goal may be easier to reach because only a few popular breeds dominate herds around the globe resulting in limited genetic diversity in cows. This means that the tetramer technology is likely to be even more illuminating and powerful in cattle than in human immunology.
"We're doing basic science on the molecular level," says Barlow, "to give the developing world better vaccines."
|Contact: Joshua Brown|
University of Vermont