Zoetis and The Roslin Institute have collaborated for salmonella research to see how the pathogen enters cattle and can lead to contamination of beef for human consumption.
The institute, at the University of Edinburgh, UK, received funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to support the research.
For three years, the BBSRC will contribute 80% of funding for the study — close to $1m — and Zoetis will provide the remaining 20% of funding and services via research materials and expertise.
It will centre on how salmonella enters and persists within the bovine lymphatic system as this lack of knowledge constrains the ability to design strategies to control infection.
The Roslin Institute research team will work with Zoetis to help develop and implement solutions to reduce the prevalence of salmonella in meat.
Professor Mark Stevens, from The Roslin Institute, said salmonella infections in cattle are significant for two reasons.
“The bacteria can cause gastroenteritis and abortion in the animals, thereby harming their productivity and welfare, and contamination of beef and the farm environment can lead to infections in people.
"Although the animal’s lymphatic system normally helps fight infection, some types of salmonella have adapted to evade the immune system and survive in lymph nodes,” he added.
“A key gap in our knowledge is how salmonella enters the lymphatic system in the first place and then persists within it, constraining our ability to design strategies to control infection.
“We will examine the role of host and bacterial factors in this process and use the results of our research study to identify new and better targets that could help us control salmonella infections in cattle.”
Developing intervention strategies
Dr Haven said salmonella remains a health concern worldwide and is estimated to cause about 94 million cases of foodborne disease in humans and 155,000 deaths each year.
“This study is fundamental for developing intervention strategies.
“We’re excited and committed to being at the forefront of these discoveries, working closely with our academic and industry partners, to identify issues and solutions for safe food now and in the future as we work together to feed the world’s growing population.”
Professor Stevens added that Zoetis will provide a link between our basic research and commercialization.
Zoetis has been an industry partner on research programs with the BBSRC since 2008 to help advance understanding of animal diseases and develop solutions for those who raise food animals.
The team of researchers from The Roslin Institute —incorporated within the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies — includes Professor Mark Stevens, Professor John Hopkins and Dr Jayne Hope.
They are collaborating with Charles Cornell, MS, technical lead for the Cattle Food Safety Vaccine franchise, veterinary medicine research and development at Zoetis.