The UK & International Veterinary Vaccinology Network Conference took place on the 9th and 10th January 2019 in the stunning location of The Tower Hotel, overlooking London’s Tower Bridge. Both the UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network (VVN) and the International Veterinary Vaccinology Network (IVVN) hosted the conference with 200 delegates from across 30 different countries in attendance. The aim of the conference was to bring together individuals from different career stages, disciplines and geographical locations with the hope of facilitating the formation of novel collaborations to improve vaccine design and development for livestock and zoonotic diseases of importance in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs).
Day 1: 9th January 2019
The conference began with VVN Director and IVVN Co-Director Prof Bryan Charleston (The Pirbright Institute, UK) welcoming delegates to London. VVN coordinator Madeleine Clark (The Pirbright Institute, UK) provided a summary of the fantastic achievements of the UK VVN over the past five years and a selection of the key initiatives that have been funded by the Network. The conference symbolised the joining of both the UK and International networks and following Madeleine’s presentation, IVVN Director Dr. Timothy Connelley (The Roslin Institute, UK), gave an overview of the activities of the IVVN since launching in July 2017, and the many opportunities available to IVVN members. Excitingly, an African Vaccinology Network (AfVANET) has also been established and AfVANET coordinator, Prof Mustapha Oumouna (University of Medea, Algeria) introduced delegates to the aims and objectives of the network.
‘Vaccines for Ectoparasites’ was the focus of the first session of the conference which was chaired by Professor Christine Maritz-Olivier (University of Pretoria, South Africa). Prof Jose de la Fuente (Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, Spain) opened the session with a presentation on the use of systems biology to identify key molecules involved in tick-host-pathogen interactions in order to develop vaccines to control tick-borne diseases. The second talk of the session focused on mites, specifically Dermanyssus gallinae (poultry red mite), with Dr. Alasdair Nisbet (Moredun Research Institute, UK) presenting his work on the development of a reliable way to test prototype vaccines in vivo. Switching species from chickens to fish, Prof Frank Nilson (University of Bergen, Norway) described his sea lice vaccine research and illustrated the challenges in testing candidate vaccines. Presentations from Prof Ala Tabor (University of Queensland, Australia) and Prof Isabel Santos (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil) directed the audience’s attention to anti-tick vaccines. Prof Ala Tabor illustrated her work on vaccines against Rhipicephalus microplus and Rhipicephalus australis. Prof Isabel Santos’s talk provided an overview of a decavalent vaccine that decreases Rhipicephalus microplus infestations in cattle. Each session consisted of presentations from invited speakers and early career researchers. Irene Kiio (International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya) concluded the first session of the conference by presenting her PhD research on a dual mixture of recombinant tick antigens as a vaccine candidate against Rhipicephalus appendiculatus.
After a delicious lunch, the second session of the day on ‘Vaccine Commercialisation’ chaired by Dr. Jeremy Salt (GALVmed) was underway. Dr. Mahesh Kumar (Zoetis, USA) opened the session with a talk on the elements that influence the selection of candidate vaccines, the speed of vaccine development and the eventual success of a vaccine. Next, Dr. Lois Muraguri (GALVmed, UK) presented the East Africa Communities Mutual Recognition Procedure, an initiative to harmonise the registration and application procedure for veterinary medicines across all East African Community countries. The third presentation focused on business development aspects of vaccine commercialisation with Dr. Peter Jeffries (Business Development Advisor, UK) exploring the ways in which companies assess technology opportunities. Prof. Marshall Lightowlers (University of Melbourne, Australia) then presented results of a Cysvax field trial undertaken in Nepal to eliminate Taenia solium transmission in pigs. The final talk of the session was from Tabby Karanja-Lumumba, a research award recipient from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Kenya, who presented gender and youth-specific recommendations for adoption of Newcastle disease vaccine in East Africa.
Following a day of excellent presentations (and a quick trip outside for the group photo!), delegates networked and mingled during the drinks reception. 30 posters were presented and posters were assessed by an expert judging panel – 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 conference concluded with a lovely three-course dinner and lots of discussion.
Day 2: 10th January 2019
The second day of the conference began with a session on ‘Antigen Discovery’, chaired by Dr. Vish Nene (International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya). African swine fever virus was the topic of the first presentation from Dr. Axel Karger (Friedrich-Loeffler-Instituts, Germany) who presented data on the use of mass spectrometry to identify potential vaccine targets. The next talk was from Dr. Volker Gerdts (VIDO-InterVac, Canada) on developing a subunit vaccine for Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBP) that is safe, effective and DIVA compatible. Following the morning coffee break, Dr. Nicola Ternette (University of Oxford, UK) gave a presentation on the identification of Theileria parva antigens to develop novel vaccines against East Coast Fever. Dr. Omar Khan (Tiba Biotech, USA) then presented a cross-species replicon RNA platform for the rapid design and manufacture of vaccines from Tiba Biotech, USA. Next, Dr. John Atack (Griffith University, Australia) presented his research on the identification and study of phasevarions across several important bacterial veterinary pathogens. The session concluded with talks from two PhD students – Andressa Fisch (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil) described her research on the identification of cattle MHC II ligands for optimised CD4 epitope discovery, and Marc Faber (University of Aberdeen, UK) illustrated the use of Tb-MEG1 as a vaccine candidate and biomarker of proliferative kidney disease (PKD) in rainbow trout.
Following another delicious lunch and more networking, Prof. Peter Borriello (Veterinary Medicines Directorate, UK) chaired the final session of the conference on ‘Controlling AMR with Vaccination’. The first talk was from Prof Adam Cunningham (University of Birmingham, UK) who presented ways in which vaccines can help reduce AMR and introduced BactiVac, a sister network of the IVVN who are working to accelerate the development of bacterial vaccines. The second presentation was from Dr. Vish Nene (International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya) who presented results of two OIE ad hoc meetings where the focus was to prioritise diseases for which vaccines could reduce antimicrobial use in animals. Next, Dr. Shahida Syed (Global AMR Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), UK) presented InnoVet-AMR, a partnership between the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and UK Government’s GAMRIF, which will deliver funding to develop innovative solutions to fight AMR in livestock and aquaculture in LMICs. The final talk of the session was from Dr. BingLing Xu from SEPPIC, France who illustrated the use of adjuvants in avian and swine bacterial autogenous vaccines.
Dr. Nicoline de Haan from the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya delivered the keynote presentation on the factors affecting the livelihood of small holder farmers and the reasons why these factors are important for vaccine development. Prof Gary Entrican (Moredun Research Institute, UK) provided concluding comments and reflected on the past five years of the UK Veterinary Vaccinology Network and moving forward with the International Veterinary Vaccinology Network.
Thank you to the speakers, session chairs, poster presenters, sponsors and delegates for participating in the conference, and ensuring that it was a great success!