China-Imperial College London collaboration: Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae - population biology, pathogenicity and vaccine development

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Medicine


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Description The purpose of the grant was to forge a collaboration with one of the leading groups in China working with the lung pig pathogen Actionobacillus pleuropneumoniae (APP) which causes substantial deaths, suffering and economic losses to the worldwide pig industry. The grant enabled us to collaborate with Professor Lei's group in Changchun in a number of areas - how the pig responds to infection with APP, to identify what is the best animal model to study APP disease, and to identify new vaccine approaches. The knowledge gained in all of these areas has been important in moving the field on. For example, it has been discovered that proteins present in a bacterium that normally lives on human skin, are potentially a very good vaccine to protect against APP disease. Much of the work has been done under a grant awarded to Prof Lei in China in collaboration with Prof Langford (PL). The PL laboratory has been investigating the use of the wax moth as an infection model to investigate APP, and has introduced this to Prof Lei's laboratory, which has resulted in less animals being used in research. In addition, the BBSRC allowed PL and his team to also visit two other laboratories in China who also work with APP and other pig infections. A collaboration with a laboratory in Harbin led to the discovery of two separate proteins produced by APP that helps the bacterium protect against the immune system of the pig, and has helped identify bacterial genes that can potentially be exploited in the design of new vaccines. The collaboration with Harbin also resulted in identification of proteins produced by another bacterium called Haemophilus parasuis, which like APP also causes lung diseases in pigs, that are promising vaccine candidates. Finally, the award allowed us to begin a small collaboration with Professor Cao in Chengdu which allowed us to obtain whole genome sequences of some Chinese APP strains. Currently, in the UK we are developing diagnostics and vaccines for APP, and it is important that they can be used all over the world. China has half the world's pigs, and for our tests to be usable in that country, we need to analyse Chinese strains. That collaboration allows us to develop tests for the largest worldwide pig market.

In summary, we have far exceeded our expectations and established collaborations with not one - as per the original intention of the grant - but three of the major laboratories in China working with APP to the mutual benefit of both countries.
Exploitation Route Identification of vaccine candidates for both APP and H. parasuis. Potential to be taken up by other researchers either as proteins or the genes identified as being important for virulence being used in live attenuated vaccine approaches

Identification of the best strains of mice for APP infection studies. Potential to be used by other researchers.

We have introduced the use of the APP-wax moth infection model to all of the laboratories in China. In future years, we anticipate publications from these labs using the model thereby contributing to an overall reduction in animal use.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink