Int´l - Research Into Mastitis Forges Ahead

Date of publication : 3/10/2005
Source : Farming Life
From a research point of view the scourge of the dairy industry that is mastitis continues a significant amount of attention internationally. For example, a 24-month research project, due to be completed later this year, may shed some new light on how non-antibiotic-based mastitis treatments can be developed. The work has involved the development of specific antibodies which when injected into the cow's mammary gland can attach to both the invading bacteria and the animal's protective white blood cells that have the ability to destroy the mastitis-causing agents. In many ways this approach mimics work carried out in the field of cancer research and, indeed, to date, has involved close co-operation between staff with United States Department of Agriculture's Immunology and Disease Resistance Laboratory, the United States National Cancer Laboratory and France's National Institute for Agronomic Research. "Coupled, or bifunctional, antibodies are proving effective against human cancers in clinical trials of patients who don't respond to traditional therapy," said Dr Max Paape, the Marylandbased-scientist heading up the project. "But this is the first such antibody developed for domestic animals." To date, the American commitment to the project has been the development of a cloned antibody which will link up with the invading bacteria while the French have developed one which will seek out the defence providing white blood cells. The scientists are now trying to find ways of joining both types of antibody together. Animal trials will follow once this has been achieved under laboratory conditions. Mastitis costs the American dairy industry £500 million annually: the equivalent figure for the United Kingdom is £150 million. The next year or so will tell whether this biotechnological approach to mastitis prevention actually works. But, irrespective of the final results, consumers will have the final say on whether the technique ever reaches the stage of commercial use. And while members of the general public in the United States seem to have no problem with BST and genetically modified crops, getting any form of genetically-engineered solution to problems facing agriculture accepted in Europe could be a different story altogether.
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