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Vaccine to reduce E coli 0157 in cattle receives licensing approval


Belleville, ON – Biopharmaceutical company Bioniche Life Sciences says its Econiche vaccine, which is designed to reduce the shedding by cattle of Escherichia coli (E coli) O157:H7, has received full licensing approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Econiche is now available for unrestricted use by Canadian cattle producers and their veterinarians.

The vaccine is a Canadian discovery developed by the company. It has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of E coli O157 shed into the environment by beef and dairy cattle and, in turn, reduce the risk to human health. Vaccination of cattle with Econiche can help reduce the risk of food and waterborne contamination with E. coli O157:H7.

“Cows carry E coli O157:H7 but they don’t get sick. Where the disease comes from is people encountering contaminated food or water, usually from cow feces,” said Dr Brett Finlay, University of British Columbia microbiologist and bacterial diseases expert, whose research led to the development of the vaccine. “If we block the colonization of cows by O157, we basically decrease the number that humans are exposed to, and thus, dropping the disease levels in humans.”

The vaccine was developed by a strategic alliance formed in 2000 between the University of British Columbia, the Alberta Research Council, the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine & Infectious Disease Organization, and Bioniche, which holds the rights for worldwide commercialization. The vaccine prevents the E coli O157 bacteria from attaching to the intestines of vaccinated cattle, thereby reducing their reproduction within the animal, and reducing the amount of bacteria that can be released through cattle manure in the environment. More than 30,000 cattle have been involved in clinical testing of the vaccine over the past six years.

Two articles were published in a peer-reviewed journal, the “Journal of Food Protection”, with regard to the efficacy of Econiche. These articles were related to field challenge studies conducted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln involving close to 900 animals in 2002 and 2003. Among the findings by researchers Dr David Smith and Dr Rod Moxley et al: Vaccinating a majority of cattle within a pen resulted in a significant protective effect to unvaccinated cattle in the same pen. This effect is called “herd immunity”.

Another article was recently published in “Foodborne Pathogens and Disease” outlining the outcome of a clinical vaccine trial of commercially fed cattle that tested the effect of a two-dose regimen of Econiche against type III secreted proteins of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (E coli) O157:H7 on the probability of detecting the organism on environmental sampling devices.

The vaccine will be manufactured in the Bioniche production facility in Belleville, where a $25-million expansion is taking place, supported by the Ontario and Canadian governments. Vaccine supply will be limited during the manufacturing expansion period.