Makerere University on the road to availing first Anti-Tick Vaccine in Uganda

UGANDA – Makerere University in Uganda has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Alfasan Uganda Limited, to facilitate production of test batches of an Anti-Tick Vaccine developed by the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB).

The Anti-Tick Vaccine Initiative is hosted under the Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, one of the milestones endorsed by the University when the then faculty transitioned into a college.

The development of the vaccine started in 2005 with a seed grant from the Dutch Research Council, but the Government of Uganda, through the Presidential Initiative on Science and Technology, took interest and continued providing financial support to date.

According to the institution of higher learning, testing of the vaccine molecules has already been undertaken in laboratory conditions.

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The next step is to test these molecules in clinical trials which should be manufactured under Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and not under laboratory conditions.

In a bid to achieve that, Alfasan, a factory that was born out of partnership between Uganda and Holland has offered its facilities for the project.

“Alternative methods like anti-tick vaccines that reduce the use of acaricides are urgently needed to protect the livestock sector that plays a role in poverty reduction and contributes at least 3.2% to Uganda’s GDP, which is equivalent to about US$283m.”

Anti-Tick Vaccine Initiative Principal Investigator -Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa

The Anti-Tick Initiative is aimed to reduce the prevalence of cattle diseases like East Coast Fever that are an economic threat to farmers with herds of cattle.

Furthermore, common tick species in Uganda have developed resistance to acaricides used in spraying as a method of their control.

This resistance is further exacerbated by acaricide contamination of the environment, leading to residues in animal products like milk and meat, which have implications on human health.

“Therefore, alternative methods like anti-tick vaccines that reduce the use of acaricides are urgently needed to protect the livestock sector that plays a role in poverty reduction and contributes at least 3.2% to Uganda’s GDP, which is equivalent to about 1 trillion Uganda Shillings (US$283m),” said Anti-Tick Vaccine Initiative Principal Investigator -Dr. Margaret Saimo-Kahwa

The Anti-Tick Vaccine Initiative sought inspiration from Australia, where the first anti-tick vaccine was developed in the 1980s as well as Cuba where the vaccines have been used successfully for over 20 years.

Gleaning further from Brazil, the team used biotechnology approaches to develop antigens that can target the ticks in Uganda.

Results from the trials conducted so far showed that the overall efficacy of the vaccine candidate proteins was 86% for R appendiculatas (the brown ear tick) that transmits East Coast Fever (ECF) and 53% for R decoloratus that transmits Babesiosis.

“If this vaccine can reduce the burden of tick-borne diseases, we will have through one single innovation made a huge contribution to solving one of Uganda’s biggest problems,” said Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.

First made in Uganda organic pet foods launched

In other related news, Kaya’s Kitchen, a Ugandan specialty food manufacturing company has launched a line of organic pet foods, a first in the market.

Kaya’s Kitchen was established in 2020 by Naiya Ruparelia Khagram, who started producing the secret pet recipes from her kitchen at home.

“We know from first-hand experience that it’s difficult to find natural organic and good quality gourmet pet products, without going to multiple stores, and with the options being very limited in Uganda we decided to launch a new pet food, grooming, and accessories manufacturing company,” says Naiya.

The company has partnered with Ark Organics, a lifestyle store, to avail a broad range of competitively priced organic, natural pet food and a comprehensive line of pet products.

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