Queensland scientists have joined the fight against lumpy skin disease (LSD) and announced more than $1.15 million to develop locally produced vaccines and tests.
Included in the work is a long-acting treatment to suit northern cattle mustered less frequently.
Australia is currently LSD-free, however with recent cases reported in Indonesia, it is an imminent threat.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Queensland government had partnered with Meat and Livestock Australia, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and US based biotechnology company Tiba Biotech to create a world-first synthetic vaccine for LSD.
"A new mRNA vaccine would be a game changer as the live virus vaccines currently available overseas cannot be used in Australia," Mr Furner said.
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"Using existing vaccines here would result in us losing our disease-free status. A new mRNA vaccine would have the advantages of being potentially safer with capacity for rapid development and lower-cost manufacturing, helping to protect good jobs in Queensland's nation-leading livestock industries.
"DAF scientists are also working on a second project with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at the University of Queensland which involves a traditional protein-based vaccine but with a delivery system that releases the vaccine in cattle over an extended period of time.
"This would give us one option for our northern cattle, which are brought in only once a year."
Professor Tim Mahony from QAAFI's Centre for Animal Science said the team hoped to develop a prototype by the end of the year, using synthetically produced materials.
"We have the advantage that our work is based on a cattle tick vaccine that we developed a few years ago that is single dose technology developed in collaboration with a group from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne," Professor Mahony said.
"Our end goal is to develop a vaccine that would be a weapon in our armoury that could be used if there were an outbreak here to help contain the virus and ideally avoid livestock being culled."
Mr Furner said as well as vaccines, early detection was also vital to managing biosecurity risks such as LSD.
"Current diagnosis relies on identifying clinical signs and sending samples off for laboratory testing," Mr Furner said.
"There are no simple, portable 'point of care' tests or tools available for rapid field diagnosis.
"To solve this, we are developing in-field diagnostics much like the RAT tests we are all familiar with now.
"This would help us to initiate outbreak control measures as early as possible and minimise the devastating impacts of the disease.
"We expect to see results from these joint projects by early 2023."
If your animals are showing symptoms of the disease, report it immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
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