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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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BEVA gives vets access to free membership for three months

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 BEVA has announced that it is cutting membership renewal charges for the next three months in order to support all veterinary professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memberships for all existing BEVA members will be extended until 30 June 2020. Veterinary professionals who are not members of BEVA will also be able to sign up for a free membership until 30 June 2020.

BEVA president Tim Mair said: "In this extraordinary time of global crisis our profession, as with many industries, is under immense pressure. By offering free membership we are giving equine vets easy access to a wealth of supportive resources and online CPD."

To sign up please visit the BEVA website.

Image (c) BEVA. 

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LOVE Gorgie Farm seeking veterinary volunteers

LOVE Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh is looking for people with veterinary and animal care experience, who would be interested in volunteering to help care for its animals during these difficult times.

The community-owned charity farm opened to the public only last month, but decided to close temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its three-person team is working to care for the animals behind the scenes and the farm is now operating as a food bank for the public, delivering free breakfasts to local school children.

In an effort to build a contingency plan to secure the welfare of its animals, LOVE Gorgie Farm is looking for volunteers who would be able to step in if any team members fell sick or needed to self-isolate.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact gorgie@l-o-v-e.org.uk