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Custom design of multi-component nanoparticle vaccines for East Coast fever

East Coast fever (ECF), a leukemia-like tick-borne disease of cattle, is caused by the protozoan blood parasite Theileria parva. ECF is a leading cause of cattle mortality in most of sub-Saharan Africa. The acute and fatal nature of the disease poses major challenges to disease control. Treatment of ECF, or prevention by use of poisons to reduce tick infestation, are expensive and rarely accessible to poor farmers. A live vaccine involving administration of tick-derived parasites and simultaneous antibiotic treatment has been available for over 40 years, but is difficult to produce and distribute as it requires high technical expertise and storage and transport in liquid nitrogen (-80˚C). These drawbacks have hampered the widespread use of this vaccine and the disease has continued to have a devastating impact on poor smallholder farmers.

The objective of this project is to reformulate the partially-protective major sporozoite antigen p67 of Theileria parva into a nanoparticle that generates high antibody levels and better vaccine efficacy. Using a cutting-edge computation protein nanoparticle platform, different configurations of nanoparticles will be produced to test the best options to co-display multiple copies of key components of the p67 antigen. In addition, two immunomodulatory proteins will be incorporated to enhance the quality and duration of immunity. The best nanoparticle combinations of the p67 antigen and immunomodulatory proteins will be tested in a disease-challenge study in cattle. This will enable the development of a viable vaccine candidate that can be produced commercially in a potential second phase of this project.

This project is a collaboration between the University of Washington and the International Livestock Research Institute. The team will also collaborate with scientists from the University of Copenhagen, University of Toronto, and Atreca Inc. (a private US biotechnology company). This project is funded through the Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund, a partnership between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Affairs Canada, and IDRC.

The Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund is a partnership of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Global Affairs Canada, and IDRC. It represents a joint investment of CA$57 million over five years to support the development, production, and commercialization of innovative vaccines against priority livestock diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
24 months
IDRC Officer
Musa Mulongo
Total Funding
CA$ 1,481,324.00
Agriculture and Food Security
Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund
Institution Country
United States
Project Leader
Neil King
University of Washington
Institution Country
Project Leader
Vishvanath Nene
International Livestock Research Institute/Institut international de recherche sur l'élevage/Instituto Internacional de Investigaciones Pecuarias