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Russian scientists develop new drug against anthrax

Post a commentBy Eugene Vorotnikov, in Voronezh, Russia , 31-Aug-2017

Russia has developed a drug that may prevent anthrax outbreaks
Russia has developed a drug that may prevent anthrax outbreaks

Russian scientists have developed a diagnostic drug that may prevent anthrax outbreaks in livestock by identifying which animals need to be re-vaccinated against the disease. 

The medicine has been developed because of concerns over statistics gathered by the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, indicating that despite the mandatory vaccination of livestock in the country against anthrax, about 30% of these animals remain susceptible.

The UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) last year reported that there were at least 2,600 cases in Russian livestock during 2016.

The new drug includes an erythrocyte antigen, which enables blood tests to identify whether there are antibodies in livestock that fight anthrax pathogens, an agriculture ministry official explained to GlobalMeatNews.

It is administered three weeks after animals have had their first vaccination and allows vets to see if the vaccine worked. If it did, then these antibodies would be present; if it did not, then they would not, and an additional vaccine may be required.

Developed by the Federal Centre for Toxicological, Radiation, and Biological Safety (FTsTRB-VNIVI), in Kazan, Tatarstan, one of Russia’s leading research institutions, it has been patented, said the ministry official. Professor Harris Makaev, one of the drug’s developers, said: “If the animal is vaccinated, then it will definitely have these antibodies. Despite the fact that now the vaccination is mandatory, every year there are cases of infection by anthrax among the Russian farmers.”

He said research undertaken in Tatarstan using the drug confirmed that 30% of vaccinated animals needed a second vaccination. The centre between 2016 and 2017 had conducted a study of more than 9,100 samples of blood serums from cattle in 43 districts of Tatarstan, concluding the drug was highly sensitive when detecting anthrax pathogen antibodies. The tests are not quick, however. FTsTRB-VNIVI scientists have said they take about 18 hours to complete. Developers have already received a state patent and permission for the production of the drug.

In the meantime, Russian farmers consulted by GlobalMeatNews have welcomed the new diagnostic drug and test, which they believe will limit further anthrax outbreaks. Yuri Zachepov, head of Avangard KFH, a Russian farming group based in southern Russia’s Voronezh region, said the drug would bring “serious benefits”, but would be probably be “time-consuming” to use.

He stressed that anthrax vaccination itself could be difficult to manage, which was one reason why so many animals were not vaccinated, so the fact the tests were slow and complex was an additional problem. Zachepov added that the dosing required for the new drug varies according to the type of livestock.

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