Scientists have made a breakthrough in creating an effective vaccine in the age-old battle against strangles, the most frequently diagnosed infectious disease of horses worldwide.
Researchers from the AHT, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Karolinska Institute and Intervacc have developed a protein-based vaccine, which, in trials, protected more than 80 per cent of horses from the disease.
Building on genome sequencing
It is anticipated, subject to market authorisation, the vaccine – Strangvac 4, produced by Swedish company Intervacc – will be available to UK vets and horse owners in 2020.
Development of the vaccine has been built on the original genome sequencing of Streptococcus equi funded by The Horse Trust and carried out by the AHT more than a decade ago.
The Swedish group looked through the DNA sequence to identify combinations of surface proteins they believed would make vaccine candidates.
In 2009, researchers published a paper using a multiple combination of surface proteins that appeared to work well, but costs of producing the vaccine were prohibitively high.
Dr Waller also noted the technology used to develop the strangles vaccine has potential to be adapted to target many other diseases.
With an estimated 600 outbreaks of strangles each year in the UK alone, the development of the vaccine has the potential to have tremendous benefits to horse health around the world.
Jan-Ingmar Flock, chief executive of Intervacc, said: “We are delighted to have shown our Strangvac vaccine protected more than 80 per cent of horses from this dreadful disease. Strangles is a scourge of the equine world and the development of Strangvac has the potential to prevent many thousands of horses from falling ill each year.
“Transfer of the manufacturing process and production of commercial batches are under way towards the registration and launch of Strangvac, and we anticipate [it] will be available during 2020.”