14/06/2012

Animal Health Research Club to combat animal disease

A new research club has been launched which aims to encourage collaboration between farmers, breeders and pharmaceutical companies in the fight against animal disease.

A new research club has been launched which aims to unite farmers, breeders and pharmaceutical companies in the fight against animal diseases.

BBSRC: bioscience for the futureThe Animal Health Research Club (ARC) – which is being led by the Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) – aims to improve animal health and welfare through better understanding, management and control of pests and pathogens.

£9.5 million of both public and private money is being invested into the research, through money from the BBSRC and the funding of 12 member companies as well as the Scottish Government.

The club aims to draw on the expertise of both academia and industry to create new ideas for keeping animals healthy and free from disease in order to minimise the economic damage that is often caused by disease outbreaks such as the 2001 and 2007 cases of foot-and-mouth disease.

According to the BBSRC, the club's research will focus on four key areas:

  • the fundamental biology of how farmed animals resist pests and diseases;
  • the development of new tools for the detection and monitoring of diseases to inform breeding strategies;
  • research to help the understanding of why vaccines vary in their effectiveness from one individual to another; and
  • the determination of the relationship between breeding for production traits and resistance to disease.


The club aims to draw on the expertise of academia & industry to create new ideas for keeping animals healthy and free from disease in order to minimise the economic damage that is often caused by disease outbreaks such as the 2001 and 2007 cases of foot-and-mouth.Celia Caulcott, BBSRC director of innovation and skills, believes the ARC will be an instrumental research body in researching how to effectively combat animal diseases.

She said: "The Animal Health Club is a unique chance to take a broad look at fundamentals of disease. We hope that by encouraging collaborations and helping people to share knowledge across normal sector boundaries we will be able to deliver real impacts that could deliver a big boost to food security."

Contributing finance to the research are a mix of 12 companies including breeders like Aviagen and Cobb; representative industry societies such as EBLEX (the organisation for the English beef and sheep meat industry) and Holstein UK; pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Merial and research companies including Moredun Scientific and Genus.

Denny Funk, chief research and development officer for Genus, said: "We are excited to be a part of this cross sector, public-private effort. We think that the research funded by the Animal Health Research club could be of great value to all of those with an interest in combating animal disease."

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