The proposal deals with the establishment of control measures for two major tick-borne diseases of small ruminants: theileriosis caused by Theileria lestoquardi and T. uilenbergi and babesiosis caused by Babesia ovis. The research programme aims at improving existing and producing new attenuated vaccines, designing subunit vaccines and capability building.
To achieve these goals the proposal will assess parasite diversity and identify molecules associated with attenuation of parasite virulence to be included in the development of safe and efficacious live vaccines. For the design of a subunit vaccine parasite molecules will be identified and characterized involved in i) invasion of host cells ii) activation of CD4+ T cells and NK cells for the production of cytokines capable of activating macrophages for killing of the parasites and iii) activation of cytotoxic T-lymphocytes involved in killing of T. lestoquardi-infected leucocytes. For improvement of attenuated vaccines, a combination of vaccine with subunit vaccine will be examined for synergistic effects and reducing the need of a cold chain by improving storage conditions/ shelf life of vaccine will be aimed for.
Groups working on Plasmodium are involved with the goal to benefit from the scientific and technological knowledge in this field and to translate it into tools and reagents for small ruminant piroplasms. Industrial expertise regarding vaccine development and delivery systems will be incorporated in the whole project. The impact of the vaccine to be produced against these emerging tick-borne diseases will be enormous, as they pose a great threat to livestock production, and a contribution will be made that will meet critical Millennium development goals: food security, food safety, poverty alleviation, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.