Zoetis Inc., formerly the animal health business unit of Pfizer Inc., and The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom, announced a collaboration for research of Salmonella in cattle.
The Roslin Institute has received funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to support collaborative research with Zoetis that will bring valuable industry knowledge and input into its academic research program. For three years, the BBSRC will contribute 80 percent of funding for the study — close to $1 million — and Zoetis will not only provide the remaining 20 percent of funding but also provide in-kind services via research materials and expertise.
Researchers at The Roslin Institute and Zoetis will jointly investigate how Salmonella enters and persists within the bovine lymphatic system and can lead to contamination of beef for human consumption. The team of researchers from The Roslin Institute — which is incorporated within the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies — includes Professor Mark Stevens, PhD, chair of microbial pathogenesis; Professor John Hopkins, PhD, chair of veterinary immunology; and Jayne Hope, PhD, a leading researcher on bovine immunity and mycobacteria. They are collaborating with Charles Cornell, MS, technical lead for the Cattle Food Safety Vaccine franchise, Veterinary Medicine Research and Development at Zoetis. The BBSRC grant also provides funding for a postdoctoral researcher and a research technician for three years.
The Roslin Institute research team will work with Zoetis to help develop and implement solutions to reduce the prevalence of Salmonella in meat.
“Salmonella infections in cattle are significant for two reasons,” Professor Stevens said. “It can cause gastroenteritis and abortion in the animals, thereby harming their productivity and welfare, and contamination of beef and the farm environment can lead to infections in people.
Cattle are a significant source of human Salmonella infections, he added. Although the animal’s lymphatic system normally helps fight infection, some types of Salmonella have adapted to evade the immune system and survive in lymph nodes.
“A key gap in our knowledge is how Salmonella enters the lymphatic system in the first place and then persists within it, constraining our ability to design strategies to control infection,” Professor Stevens continued. “We will examine the role of host and bacterial factors in this process and use the results of our research study to identify new and better targets that could help us control Salmonella infections in cattle.”
Funding from the BBSRC allows The Roslin Institute to work strategically with Zoetis on important Salmonella research in cattle, which impacts animal and human health and safety of the food supply across the globe, said Michelle Haven, DVM, PhD, senior vice president, Corporate Development, Alliances and Solutions at Zoetis.
“Salmonella remains a health concern worldwide and is estimated to cause about 94 million cases of foodborne disease in humans and 155,000 deaths1 each year,” Dr. Haven said. “This study is fundamental for developing intervention strategies. We’re excited and committed to being at the forefront of these discoveries, working closely with our academic and industry partners, to identify issues and solutions for safe food now and in the future as we work together to feed the world’s growing population.”
Professor Stevens added that Zoetis is an ideal partner for Salmonella research.
“Zoetis will provide a link between our basic research and commercialization,” he said. “This study will add value to future studies at The Roslin Institute of other infectious diseases of food-producing animals.”
Zoetis has been an industry partner on a variety of research programs with the BBSRC since 2008 to help advance understanding of critical animal diseases and develop new solutions for those who raise food animals.