DELIVERING SOLUTIONS AGAINST THE LIVER FLUKE
Liver fluke disease, or fasciolosis, affects an estimated 17 million people worldwide, particularly in Andean America, Africa and Asia. In ruminants, fasciolosis has dramatically increased in the EU in recent years, causing annual livestock losses of €60 million in Ireland alone. DELIVER was set up with the aim of developing new environment-friendly methods for the control of the disease in livestock, thereby minimising the use of anthelmintic drugs and enhancing the quality and safety of meat and dairy products.
Reducing the use of anthelmintic drugs
Current disease control measures are based on the use of drugs, which can leave potentially dangerous chemical residues in foodstuffs. Furthermore, resistance to drugs has appeared in some parts of the EU, and so it has become crucial to find new means of fighting fasciolosis. DELIVER is developing a new forecast model, based on geographical observations and data on fluke populations, to assist farmers in planning appropriate control strategies and minimising the use of flukicides.
The project is also studying the resistance of fluke to drugs. By studying the genetic and phenotypic changes in resistant populations, participants in DELIVER will determine the optimal strategies for preserving drug efficiency and using alternative control methods where possible. This could safeguard the efficacy of triclabendazole drugs for use in cases of infection in humans.
Furthermore, DELIVER is going a step further and conducting further research on innovative techniques. Team members have started testing potential future vaccines for cattle, sheep and goats, based on the promising experimental vaccines, including recombinant antigens and DNA vaccines. Controlled breeding is also studied, to evaluate the extent of innate immunity in sheep.
The importance of controlling the disease
DELIVER has launched its research into forecasting, vaccine development and drug resistance studies, but the overall disease control process faces other challenges. For example, fluke can multiply in the wildlife through snail vectors and plants, and in this scenario, the triclabendazole drugs are ineffective — they only work with farm animals. There is also evidence that climate change, bringing warmer and wetter spring and summer seasons, is increasing the incidence of the infection and spreading it to areas previously unaffected.
The outcomes of DELIVER will play an essential part in safeguarding the value and reputation of the EU exports market for meat and dairy products. The project’s work will provide alternatives to the present unsatisfactory control of the most intractable parasite of farm animals in Europe. This will contribute to sustainable rural development, at a time when the number of farmers is predicted to decrease.
On the other hand, the project will strengthen the European Research Area by conducting pioneering work on economically important, zoonic, helminth disease of livestock that can later be used to provide improved control of other parasitic diseases. In terms of policy development, DELIVER fulfils the policy aims of ‘The Life Sciences and Biotechnology Action Plan’ that promotes the development of biotechnology.
‘Delivering’ Europe of liver fluke is an ambitious target, but this project has provided the means to success by involving experts from different fields and countries, working hand in hand.
List of Partners
- University of Cordoba (Spain)
- Dublin City University (Ireland)
- University College Dublin (Ireland)
- University of Aberystwyth (UK)
- University of Exeter (UK)
- University of Liverpool (UK)
- Witold Stefanski Institute of Parasitology, Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland)
- Queen’s University Belfast (UK)
- Instituut voor Dierhouderij en Diergezondheid, part of the Animal Sciences Group of Wageningen UR (The Netherlands)
- Agricultural University of Athens (Greece)
- Institute of Experimental Pathology and Parasitology - BASc (Bulgaria)
- Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires (Argentina)
- Osvaldo Cruz Foundation, Fiocruz (Brazil)
- Universidad Nacional de Cajamarca (Perú)
- Lara Media (Ireland)
- University of Liverpool (UK)
- Full title:
- Design of effective and sustainable control strategies for liver fluke in Europe
- Contract n°:
- Project co-ordinator:
- Jose Perez Arevalo, Universidad de Cordoba, firstname.lastname@example.org
- EC Scientific Officer:
- Isabel Minguez Tudela, email@example.com
- EU contribution:
- € 3.5M
- Specific Targeted Research Project