Poultry CRC collaboration challenges Campylobacter

Poultry CRC researchers at CSIRO and The Ohio State University (OSU) are working on a collaborative project to improve industry’s ability to control the gut levels of Campylobacter in meat chickens.

Campylobacter is a major cause of human gastro-intestinal illness. It’s estimated that there are around 220,000 cases of Campylobacter per year in Australia, with 50,000 of these being linked to poultry. On the conservative estimate that each case of campylobacteriosis represents an economic cost of around $400, this gastro-intestinal disease is costing the Australian nation around $20 million per year.

Improved control of Campylobacter levels in the gut of meat chickens is a central focus of one of the CRC’s research programs. Program 3 – Safe & Quality Food Production – has several Sub-Projects already underway – including those headed by Dr Sharon Bishop-Hurley (CSIRO), Ms Nalini Chinivasagam (DEEDI) and Dr Gireesh Rajashekara (OSU), all with a focus on on-farm interventions. The CRC is committed to supporting these existing research activities with a Sub-Project on the development of a vaccine.

To help build collaborations across the existing Sub-Projects and to bring together a possible vaccine research proposal, a Campylobacter workshop was held recently in Brisbane. The workshop highlighted the collaborative nature of the CRC – researchers from two Australian partners (DEEDI and CSIRO), an overseas university partner (OSU), and key industry partners (Bioproperties and Pfizer) met by teleconference – linking the Australian site with two in Ohio.

As well as building collaboration across Sub-Projects, the focus of the workshop was to bring together the two potential vaccine proposals originally submitted independently by CSIRO and OSU. In an outstanding example of the collaboration that underpins the CRC concept, Dr Rob Moore (CSIRO) and Dr Kimberly Cole (OSU) have used the workshop and a subsequent visit by Dr Moore to Ohio to develop a fully collaborative proposal for an innovative Campylobacter vaccine.

“This capacity to bring together outstanding research scientists from different research organisations to undertake industry relevant work is a hallmark of the CRC’s approach to science,” said the CRC’s Research Manager, DEEDI’s Dr Pat Blackall.

“By simply getting together we have managed to identify the strengths of the group and pull them together without unnecessary duplication. This ‘family approach’ uses the skills of the partners appropriately, maximising the chances of a successful outcome in what is a very important area.”

The proposal developed by Drs Moore and Cole is currently being subjected to the scrutiny of the Science Committee and the End User Committee as well as the CRC Board. A decision on whether the work proceeds will be made shortly.

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