ECO Animal Health Group plc (LON:EAH), a leader in the development, registration and marketing of pharmaceutical products for global animal health markets, has announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, ECO Animal Health Ltd, has entered into a research partnership with Moredun Research Institute (MRI), UK. This research involves an exciting project to develop an effective first-in-class vaccine solution for the sustainable control of poultry red mite (PRM). MRI has the necessary tools, expertise, and experience in working with PRM and in parasite vaccine development. The vaccine will target functions that are important to PRM development, viability and fertility. These targets will be identified by analysing data across the developmental stages of PRM using a reverse vaccinology approach and then evaluated in a robust PRM challenge model developed and validated at MRI. ECO Animal Health Ltd is excited about the potential of this innovation to help address a significant unmet need and improve animal welfare in the poultry industry.
Poultry Red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) infestation is one of the emerging and important causes of production losses in laying hens and has a major impact on animal welfare. Poultry red mites also serve as vectors for several disease-causing bacteria and viruses in poultry. Their ubiquitous presence threatens the poultry industry globally, as there are no effective non-chemical solutions available for the prevention of PRM infestation in poultry. Pesticides are currently being used by poultry producers to treat and therefore limit the losses due to heavy PRM infestation. However, this comes with associated risks including chemical residues in eggs and meat and resistance development. Heavy PRM infestation is reported in the EU and UK and this is expected to increase as a result of animal husbandry legislation changes, increased treatment resistance, climate warming, all of which is hampered by the current lack of a sustainable approach to PRM control.
Under the terms of the partnership, MRI will execute the sponsored research project over a period of 36 months. If the programme is successful, ECO may take the option of developing, registering and commercialising the vaccine under a worldwide exclusive license from MRI.
David Hallas, Chief Executive of ECO said: “Once again our R&D team has successfully concluded an agreement to partner with a leading research institute, in this case MRI, to develop a vaccine solution to PRM. If successful, the vaccine has very significant potential globally and would have substantial animal health benefits.”
Dr Stewart Burgess, Principal Investigator at MRI commented “We are delighted to have entered this research partnership with ECO which will enable us to apply our knowledge of PRM and expertise in developing parasite vaccines to support the global poultry industry.”