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    Animal Health Treatments Wins CSIRO Medal

    Document date: Thu 12 Dec 2002 Published: Thu 12 Dec 2002 19:19:12
    Document No: 229582 Document part: A
    Market Flag: N
    Classification: Other

    HOMEX - Perth



    Scientists from Australian animal health and biotechnology group
    Imugene and CSIRO have been awarded one of Australia's most
    prestigious scientific prizes. The CSIRO medal was awarded for
    developing an innovative productivity enhancer for the $US2 billion a
    year poultry market.

    CSIRO team leaders Dr Mike Johnson, Dr John Lowenthal, and Dr Adrian
    Hodgson, CEO of VectoGen, Imugene's production animal subsidiary,
    received the CSIRO Medal for identifying a novel method of delivering
    the natural productivity enhancers called cytokines through the
    patented Adenoviral Vector delivery technology.

    Higher Education Minister Brendan Nelson and Science Minister Peter
    McGauran presented the team with the award at Federal Parliament
    House in Canberra this week.

    The new treatment is an immunological product - not an antibiotic,
    drug or hormone. Initially, it's aimed at the poultry industry. The
    new technology will reduce the reliance on antibiotics, promoting
    sustainable production of safe, high-quality food while improving
    animal welfare.

    Dr Hodgson said the award reflects the success of the Groups
    scientific achievements, the results of which are a significant
    breakthrough for the poultry industry globally.

    "The Adenoviral Vector delivery technology does away with the need to
    treat animals with potentially harmful and increasingly ineffective
    antibiotics. Instead, it uses the naturally occurring chicken
    proteins called cytokines to boost the productivity and improve the
    health of the chickens."

    Attached : CSIRO Media Release dated 6 December 2002


    Warwick Lamb - 02 9870 7330
    Graham Dowland - 08 9322 9189



    A new generation "natural" treatment to protect chickens against
    infection could soon phase out the use of antibiotics in the poultry
    industry which is good news for consumers concerned about their use.

    A CSIRO Livestock Industries' research team has developed a way of
    delivering antibiotic alternatives - natural proteins called
    cytokines - into chickens.

    CSIRO researcher, Dr John Lowenthal, says the use of antibiotics in
    animal industries has raised some concerns about the potential spread
    of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    "A number of European countries have reacted to these concerns by
    restricting the use of antibiotics in food production animals," he
    says. "There is, therefore, a strong international push to develop
    new, environmentally-friendly methods to control disease in animals."

    In 1990, CSIRO began an ambitious research program to find
    alternatives to antibiotics for the poultry industry. The focus was
    on using cytokines to enhance disease resistance in poultry. A
    significant advantage with this approach is the ability of the
    cytokines to provide protection against a range of different
    infectious diseases.

    "Cytokines are proteins that are produced by the body. Their job is
    to improve the immune response during infection and help combat
    disease. As such, they are excellent naturally-occurring
    therapeutics," Dr Lowenthal says.

    "We showed that when chickens were treated with cytokines their
    health improved and as a consequence they gained weight more quickly.
    The problem was identifying how we could safely and effectively
    deliver this treatment to the 400 million chickens grown commercially
    each year in Australia."

    According to CSIRO researcher, Dr Mike Johnson, the solution involved
    using viruses called adenoviruses to carry the cytokines into

    "The adenoviruses we are using are similar to vaccine strains
    commonly used in the poultry industry. Using these adenoviruses is
    ideal in terms of maintaining biosafety standards because they are
    harmless to the animal and only infect one species," Dr Johnson says.

    "For example, a chicken adenovirus will infect only chickens, but not
    humans or other animals."

    Another safety factor is that the adenovirus and cytokines remain in
    the chicken for only a few days while the protective effect lasts
    much longer. As a result, fully-grown chickens are completely free of
    the treatment.

    A big plus is the way treatments can be delivered to animals. Needles
    are no longer necessary - instead treatments can be mixed in with
    food or water or simply sprayed on.

    "Numerous animal trials, performed at CSIRO's secure animal
    facilities, showed that treating chickens with an adenovirus carrying
    a cytokine - chicken gamma interferon - led to improvements in growth
    performance," Dr Johnson says.

    An Australian research and development company, VectoGen Limited, a
    subsidiary of the Australian animal health company, Imugene Limited,
    recently acquired exclusive worldwide licenses from CSIRO to this new

    VectoGen's Chief Executive Officer, Dr Adrian Hodgson, says the new
    treatment will assist with the reduction in the use of antibiotics as
    an in-feed additive and assist Australian livestock producers in
    providing sustainable production of safe, high-quality food products.

    "The chicken cytokine treatment is one of a range of products
    VectoGen is developing for the pig and poultry health markets," says
    Dr Hodgson.

    Dr Jeff Fairbrother, Executive Director of the Australian Chicken
    Meat Federation, says the Australian poultry industry keenly awaits
    the release of this novel technology.


    TV and print media - high-resolution photographs and betacam footage
    featuring Dr Johnson and Dr Lowenthal with chickens and performing
    laboratory work are available.

    Drs Lowenthal, Johnson and Hodgson can be interviewed at:
    CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL),
    5 Portarlington Road EAST GEELONG VIC 3219
    Any media wishing to come on site MUST contact Ms Judith Maunders,
    03 5227 5426, in order to gain entry.

    For further information:
    Dr John Lowenthal, CSIRO Livestock Industries
    Dr Mike Johnson, CSIRO Livestock Industries

    Media assistance:

    Ms Judith Maunders, CSIRO Livestock Industries 03 5227 5426
    0409 031 658

    Dr Adrian Hodgson, VectoGen 03 5227 5120
    Dr Jeff Fairbrother, Australian Chicken Meat Federation 02 9955 3224
    [email protected]


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