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Fight begins to eradicate fatal parasite; first vaccines delivered following major funding award
Date:10/29/2008

They will be used to treat 100,000 pigs in an area where the same number of humans are at risk of contracting the disease in the largest field trial of the vaccine to date.

Professor Lightowlers and his colleagues will travel to the infected regions where they have already trained local people to carry out the vaccinations; some from countries including Peru and Cameroon are now completing doctorates at the University.

University of Melbourne researchers have chosen to immunize pigs instead of humans with two intermuscular injections for piglets that prevent the animals from ever becoming infected but does not remove the disease from animals already infected.

"If we can prove that we can produce the vaccine commercially in a way that works in the field we will be looking at philanthropic groups for whom $100 million or $200 million isn't a lot of money to pay for the millions of doses needed to vaccinate pigs across the globe," he said.

In countries without proper sanitation, and where pigs and humans live in close quarters, there is a constant cycle of re-infection.

Pigs contract the tapeworm parasite from contact with human faeces, it is then passed on to humans who eat improperly cooked pig meat, and then more seriously, from human to human via exposure to tapeworm eggs in human faeces.

The vaccine will be developed and registered for commercial use by UK-based GALVmed, an organisation dedicated to the development of diagnostics, vaccines and medicines to tackle livestock diseases across the world.

GALVmed has secured US$28m from the UK Government's Department for International Development and the Gates Foundation for the development of vaccines, of which approximately US$5m is for the Taenia solium vaccine.

Professor Lightowlers says the vaccination could ultimately be delivered directly in humans, but developing it to that point would be a vastly more expensive process and one that wo
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Contact: Nerissa Hannink
nhannink@unimelb.edu.au
61-304-305-88055
University of Melbourne
Source:Eurekalert

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