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Major step forward in thermally-stable TB vaccines
The findings, published in Scientific Reports, were described by researchers as a big step forward.
Promising vaccine can be protected from heat damage - study

A promising TB vaccine for cattle and humans can be protected from heat damage, using a new technique developed at the University of Bath, scientists say.

The new method, called ensilication, prevents crucial vaccine components spoiling outside the fridge by ‘shrink wrapping’ the proteins in position, using layers of silica that build a ‘cage’ around the molecules.

Researchers showed that the TB antigen ag85b and a vaccine fused with the adjuvant protein Sbi, are sensitive to breakdown outside of the fridge.

They were then able to show for the first time that these vaccine components were protected from heat damage when ensilicated and kept at room temperature for long periods of time.

The findings, published in Scientific Reports, were described by researchers as a big step forward, not only in developing thermally-stable TB vaccines, but also in showing that this technique could be used for many different kinds of vaccine.

Fifty per cent of vaccines are currently discarded before use, after exposure to suboptimal temperatures. The World Health Organisation named thermostable vaccines a priority research area in its Global Vaccine Action Plan for 2011-2020.

Lead author Professor Jean van den Elsen said: “A new TB vaccine is really urgently needed to supplement or replace the existing BCG vaccine and reduce the number of TB cases and deaths – particularly as drug-resistant TB infections remain high.”

First author Ayla Wahid, added: “To make the vaccine as effective as possible it needs to be thermally-stable, or in other words not spoil outside of a fridge, which is why we’re really encouraged by these results. Cold-chain storage leads to a lot of wastage and expense which could be avoided by ensilication.”

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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RCVS Fellowship board chair elections get underway

Voting for the 2019 RCVS Fellowship Chair election is now underway. This year four candidates are standing for election, including Dr Robert Huey, Professor John Innes, Professor Liz Mossop and Professor Ian Ramsey.

The Chair will attend and preside over Fellowship meetings and take the lead in consolidating the Fellowship’s position as the learned society of the RCVS. Fellows will receive an email containing a link to the online voting form, as well as candidates’ details and manifestos. Voting closes at 5pm on Thursday, 5 September.