The Canadian government plans to give $1.75 million in new funding to support the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization for development of alternatives to antibiotics over the next three years.

The federal funding will allow the VIDO to 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.

The VIDO project 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 Canada’s livestock industry and a significant cause of animal suffering. No new classes of antibiotics have been developed in the last 20 years.

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