The Canadian government will provide $1.75 million in new funding during the next three years to support the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization to develop alternatives to antibiotics.

VIDO will undertake a three-year research project that will focus on swine and poultry, but could eventually include cattle entering feedlots, to prevent bacterial infection and to increase the protective power of vaccines.

It will test the use of naturally occurring peptides to provide early protection for animals by stimulating innate immunity and directly killing bacteria, as well as increasing the magnitude of the immune response following vaccination.

Infectious diseases continue to be a major cause of economic loss to the North American livestock industry, as well as a contributor to animal suffering. No new classes of antibiotics have been developed in the last 20 years.

“Infectious agents know no boundaries and are not restricted to any region,” says Lorne Babiuk, VIDO director. “Developing substitutes for antibiotics is even more important now as antibiotic disease resistance increases on a global scale.”