Makerere University on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alfasan Uganda Limited to facilitate production of test batches of the Anti-Tick Vaccine developed by the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB).
The Anti-Tick Vaccine Initiative is hosted under the Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, CoVAB.
Unveiling the research challenge and solution, Anti-Tick Vaccine Initiative Principal Investigator (PI)-Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa noted that ticks as vectors for diseases like East Coast Fever are an economic threat to farmers with herds of exotic breeds, their crosses and increasingly, local breeds raised in a tick-free environment.
Common tick species in Uganda have developed resistance to acaricides used in spraying as a method of their control.
This resistance is further exacerbated by acaricide contamination of the environment, leading to residues in animal products like milk and meat, which have implications on human health.
About 20-30% of Uganda’s 15million head of cattle are lost annually due to tick-borne diseases
“Therefore, alternative methods like anti-tick vaccines that reduce the use of acaricides are urgently needed to protect the livestock sector that plays a role in poverty reduction and contributes at least 3.2% to Uganda’s GDP, which is equivalent to about Ugx. 1 Trillion” said Dr. Saimo-Kahwa.
The Anti-Tick Vaccine Initiative therefore sought inspiration from Australia, where the first anti-tick vaccine was developed in the 1980s as well as Cuba where the vaccines have been used successfully for over 20 years. Gleaning further from Brazil, the team used biotechnology approaches to develop antigens that can target the ticks in Uganda.
“Testing of these molecules under laboratory conditions has been done. The next step is to test these molecules in clinical trials. However, the molecules should be manufactured under Good Manufacturing Practice and not under laboratory conditions.” ” remarked the Principal Investigator
Alfasan, is a private company certified for the production of veterinary biologicals
Makerere University is home to a number of innovations, whose number keeps growing thanks to generous funding from the Government and other partners. In recognition of the need to translate these innovations into commercially viable products, the University introduced an Intellectual Property Management Office and appointed Canon Goddy Muhumuza as Ag. Manager.
“A new dawn is setting on Makerere University. Makerere University is becoming a truly international research university,” commenced the Vice Chancellor Prof. Nawangwe
The Vice Chancellor noted that the capacity to develop vaccines was evidence of attaining to the highest levels of research capacity and expressed great pride to learn that the team was completely Ugandan.
Results from the trials conducted so far showed that the overall efficacy of the vaccine candidate proteins was 86% for R appendiculatas (the brown ear tick) that transmits East Coast Fever and 53% for R decoloratus that transmits Babesiosis.
“If this vaccine can reduce the burden of tick borne diseases, we will have through one single innovation made a huge contribution to solving one of Uganda’s biggest problems.” he said.
Canon Muhumuza, revealed that Maker ere University shall own the patent of the vaccine.
Article by Makerere University Public Relations Office