Lab Canada

Canadian research collaboration produces food safety vaccine against E coli 0157:H7

Belleville, ON – Biopharmaceutical company Bioniche Life Sciences says it is scaling up production of its cattle vaccine against E. coli 0157:H7 vaccine, in order to ensure sufficient supply to meet Canadian demand.

The vaccine, which received received authorization from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to distribute the E coli 0157:H7 cattle vaccine to Canadian veterinarians on December 22, was developed in collaboration with the University of British Columbia and the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO).

“This vaccine will ensure that Canadian cattle producers continue to provide a safe product for Canadian consumers,” says Dr Lorne Babiuk, director of VIDO and Canada Research Chair in vaccinology and biotechnology in Saskatoon. “More importantly, the reduction of E coli shedding into the environment will have far-reaching consequences regarding environmental contamination. The recent outbreaks of E coli infection from consumption of vegetables is an example of additional benefits of such a vaccine. The key discovery to making this vaccine a reality was made by Dr Brett Finlay at the University of British Columbia, when he deciphered the mechanisms by which E coli attaches to and infects animals. Using this knowledge, it was possible to target the specific proteins of the bacterium for use in the vaccine.”

“It is wonderful to see that this vaccine can be used to prevent the tragic food and waterborne outbreaks associated with this organism,” says Dr Finlay, who is professor, Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia. “It is also a great feeling to see all the work that went into the basic discoveries being applied to a vaccine that should have real impact on Canadians’ health.”

The vaccine was one of the interventions referenced in an article in the journal, Nature (vol. 445, 4 January, 2007). The article, entitled “The dark side of E coli”, discusses recent human health outbreaks caused by E coli 0157:H7 bacteria in food products. The article referenced the Bioniche vaccine as a “promising research lead that might help prevent future outbreaks.”

“Our vaccine is the first product to be registered globally as a pre-harvest (pre-slaughter) intervention,” said Graeme McRae, president & CEO of Bioniche. “It will be an important supplement to post-harvest (post-slaughter) interventions already implemented by the meatpacking industry.”