Researchers with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine have identified two proteins that could prove key to developing vaccines to protect pigs from Brachyspira hyodysenteriae.

To help develop more effective vaccines the University of Saskatchewan has been conducting research into the mechanisms of diarrhea.

Dr. Matt Loewen, an Associate Professor in Veterinary Medical Biosciences with the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine, explains there are two classes of pathogens that cause diarrhea, viral and bacterial, but this work has focused on Brachyspira hyodysenteriae, a bacterial diarrhea for which developing a vaccine has proved challenging.

To do something different than what has previously been done with just basically grinding up the bacteria that’s been isolated off a farm and then trying to make a vaccine from that or taking all the proteins from a bacteria and looking at the immunogenicity of it, what we did was we decided to go back and say, Okay what is the bug doing to the pig that actually causes the diarrhea and what’s coming out of the bacteria that’s causing that diarrhea so we went down to very basic principles of what is essential for that bacteria to cause diarrhea.

What are the specific proteins that are produced by that bacteria that have an impact on the pig’s physiology to result in diarrhea. We were then able to identify two proteins that were very central to causing those changes in the pathophysiology. What we found is these two proteins that we’re looking at seem to recapitulate a lot of what the bacteria can do without the bacteria being there. That means that, if the pig produces a specific immune response against these very central proteins, then you will hopefully prevent the disease.

~ Dr. Matt Loewen, Western College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Loewen says these findings will be used in the effort to develop vaccines that will be able to protect pigs from this organism.