University of Saskatchewan

July 25, 2014   

$1 MILLION IN NSERC FUNDING FOR NEW VACCINES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN

March 08, 2001
Project already breaking ground with new discoveries

Prepared by NSERC

(Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) - The Honourable Brian Tobin, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) announced $1 million in funding to test a new approach to immunization that may represent an important breakthrough in animal and human health protection.

The funding will allow the University's Veterinary Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) to continue its ground-breaking testing of the concept of DNA-enhanced immunization. The technique involves inserting into the vaccine special DNA sequences that function as immune accelerators or "adjuvants." They promise to increase vaccine effectiveness, as well as reduce side effects, and ultimately the need for antibiotics. Team leader Lorne Babiuk announced today that his group has already demonstrated that the accelerators work in a variety of domestic animals.

"VIDO plays an important role in the Canadian livestock and biotechnology industry, and it is expected to play a key role in the strategic development of health research," said Minister Tobin. "Canadians are viewed worldwide as innovators and leaders in agricultural and biotechnology research. Behind this success is a sustained long-term investment - by the Government of Canada, the provinces, the universities and the private sector. It's a commitment to the ideas and people that can make a difference."

"Lorne Babiuk's contributions to his field are an enormous asset to Canada," said Dr. Gilbert Normand, Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development). "VIDO's blend of fundamental research and innovation is a magnificent combination that the Government of Canada is proud to be supporting."

"VIDO is a superb model for collaborative team research," said Tom Brzustowski, President of NSERC. "It has successfully combined top flight internationally competitive research with private sector partnership and has produced important discoveries and inventions that protect animal health and have a huge impact on the livestock industry."

Qiagen, which is based in Germany, is also investing heavily in the VIDO research. The company has established a subsidiary in Mississauga to begin the process of practical development of therapeutics and vaccines based on the results.

The vaccine enhancement work is only one component of the VIDO success story. Last year, in the major international science journal Nature Medicine, Dr. Babiuk and colleagues reported the first truly effective use of a DNA vaccine to immunize fetal lambs. That discovery brings us closer to the day when it may be possible to protect unborn children against killers such as herpes and Hepatitis B, which can be transmitted from mother to child during labour.

NSERC (the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) invests in people, discovery and innovation and is the national instrument for making strategic investments in Canada's capability in science and technology.

Press contacts:

Lorne Babiuk, VIDO, (306) 966-7475

Arnet Sheppard, NSERC Newsbureau (613) 995-5997 axs@nserc.ca

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