International Veterinary Vaccinology Network Meeting Report

The inaugural meeting of the International Veterinary Vaccinology Network took place on the 26th and 27th March 2018 in the beautiful setting of the Ole Sereni Hotel which overlooks Nairobi National Park in Kenya. With 115 delegates from across 23 of countries in attendance, this was a fantastic opportunity for IVVN members to meet, and form new collaborations in order to improve vaccine research and development for livestock and zoonotic diseases in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs).

Day 1: 26th March 2018

The meeting began with IVVN director Dr. Tim Connelley (The Roslin Institute), IVVN co-director Dr. Bryan Charleston (The Pirbright Institute) and IVVN board member, Dr. Vish Nene (ILRI) welcoming attendees to Nairobi, and wishing delegates an enjoyable and productive meeting. IVVN Network Manager, Dr. Carly Hamilton (The Roslin Institute) provided attendees with an update presentation on the activities of the IVVN since launching in August 2017, including membership and current IVVN funding opportunities.

‘Vaccines for Zoonotic Diseases’ was the theme of the first session of the meeting which was chaired by Prof Fiona Tomley from the Royal Veterinary College. Prof Paul Kaye (University of York) began this session by presenting his research on visceral leishmaniasis, and highlighting IVVN sister network VALIDATE, which aims to promote vaccine research and development for complex intracellular pathogens that cause significant disease burden in LMICs. Rift Valley Fever was the focus of the next presentation from Dr. John Gachohi (WSU Global Heath Program), who is utilising mathematic modelling to identify vaccination strategies that can be used for Rift Valley Fever in East Africa. Brucellosis and IVVN sister network BactiVac (a bacterial vaccine network that aims to accelerate the development of vaccines against bacterial infections relevant to LMICs), was the focus of the next presentation from Dr. John McGiven (Animal and Plant Health Agency). Read more about the four IVVN sister networks here. The next presentation by Dr. Patrick Munyoki (KEMRI-Wellcome Trust) presented human epidemiological research on respiratory viruses in households in coastal Kenya. The session concluded with a talk from Dr. Baptiste Dungu (MCI Sante Animale) on vaccine needs for neglected zoonotic diseases.

Attendees had the opportunity to network over lunch, and during coffee breaks outside in the sunshine. ‘I would like to meet boards’ were set up around the room which allowed delegates to write their name and research interests on the board, or identify a particular person that they would like to meet. The organizers then matched attendees working in the same field, in order to initiate discussion on their mutual areas of interest.

Prof Brian Perry (Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh) chaired the second session of the meeting which was on veterinary vaccine production in Africa. The first presentation was from Dr. Lian Thomas (University of Liverpool) who discussed ‘How do we improve socio-economic analysis of veterinary vaccines?’ The next few talks highlighted various African vaccine-manufacturing companies including AU-PANVAC, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, KEVEVAPI and Botswana Vaccine Institute. Dr. Nick Nwankpa (AU-PANVAC) emphasised the importance of establishing global partnerships and networks, such as the IVVN, to overcome the challenges faced in the production of vaccines in Africa. The work of South African start-up company, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, was highlighted by Dr. Caryn Fenner, who discussed the use of next generation adjuvants to improve the efficacy of veterinary vaccines. Dr. Jane Wachira from Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI) outlined the role of KEVEVAPI in controlling disease in Africa via the production of safe, efficacious and affordable veterinary vaccines. Lastly, Dr. George Matlho (Botswana Vaccine Institute) discussed the control of FMD using FMDV-SAT vaccinology. The session concluded with two presentations – firstly, Dr. Jeremy Salt (GALVmed) presented the veterinary vaccines and diagnostic tests delivered by GALVmed, and secondly Dr. Keith Sumption (UN FAO) discussed global vaccine security, and an initiative set up by EuFMD to address the lack of supply of FMD vaccines for emergencies.

Following the presentations, 44 posters were presented during the poster session, which was well attended and had a fantastic atmosphere. It was an excellent platform to allow delegates to present their research, and discuss potential opportunities for collaboration. All poster abstracts can be found here, and to find out who won the Early Career Researcher Poster Prizes, please click here. The first day of the meeting concluded with a delicious three-course buffet dinner, and lots of conversation about how we can work together to improve vaccines for diseases affecting agriculture in LMICs.

Day 2: 27th March 2018

The second day of the meeting began with a session on ‘Synthetic Biology in Vaccine Development’, which was chaired by Dr. Pip Beard (The Pirbright Institute). Dr. Lauren Oldfield from the J.Craig Vetter Institute discussed her research on vaccine development using synthetic genomics and plans to expand current techniques to viruses of livestock, for example African swine fever virus. Professor Susan Rosser from the University of Edinburgh presented ways in which synthetic biology could be harnessed to enable veterinary vaccine development, and introduced delegates to the Edinburgh Genome Foundry (EGF), which is a £5.3M RCUK national synthetic biology facility focusing on automating DNA design, assembly and characterisation. The development of malaria vaccines via the Plug and Display’ VLP platform using Spycatcher/Spytag technology was the focus of the next presentation by Professor Sumi Biswas from the University of Oxford. Dr. Anna Lacasta from ILRI then presented new vaccinology approaches to control East Coast Fever in cattle. This session concluded with a presentation from Professor Eleanor Riley from The Roslin Institute and Dr. Martin Broadstock from the MRC on the Vaccine Development Process Map which has been developed by the UK Vaccine Network to speed up future vaccine development.

‘Livestock Vaccines Here & Now’ was the theme of the final session of the IVVN meeting, and Professor Sandra Adams (University of Stirling) chaired this session. Dr. Sadhana Sharma from the BBSRC introduced delegates to STAR-IDAZ International Research Consortium on Animal Health (IRC) who are bringing together working groups of global experts to develop research roadmaps for livestock diseases. Dr. Jeremiah Karuga from Zoetis, then provided an overview on the African Livestock Productivity & Health Advancement (A.L.P.H.A) initiative, funded by Zoetis and the Gates Foundation, that aims to advance sustainable livestock production in Ethiopia, Nigeria & Uganda. Prof. Brian Perry (Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh) provided delegates with an update on the Brucellosis Vaccine Prize. The competition aims to develop a suitable vaccine that is efficacious, safe and viable for use against Brucella melitensis in small ruminants across the developing world. The next talk was from Dr. Brian Bigirwa from Brentec Vaccines then presented his journey from vaccine concept, to the development and production of a successful, thermostable vaccine (Kukustar) for Newcastle Disease. Dr. Victor Mbao (Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund) presented an overview of the Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund who aim to make quality vaccines available and more affordable to small-scale livestock farmers. FAO and OIE have established the PPR Global Eradication Programme, and Dr. Bouna Diop from FAO, provided IVVN meeting delegates with an update on the programme. The meeting concluded with an excellent keynote presentation from Prof. Guy Palmer on ‘Livestock vaccination as a driver to achieve the Sustainability Development Goals’.

Thank you to the speakers, session chairs, poster presenters, and delegates for participating in the meeting, and ensuring that it was a great success.