New project launched by EC and pharmaceutical industry aims to find new ways to fight diseases transmitted to humans from animals
Zoonoses occur relatively frequently and can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Diseases such as Ebola, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), salmonellosis, anthrax, brucellosis, leptospirosis, plague, and influenza are all zoonoses. In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlighted that about 75 % of new diseases that have affected humans over the last decade have been zoonotic, while 61 % of all human infectious diseases originated in animals.
IMI’s Zoonosis Anticipation and Preparedness Initiative (ZAPI) project aims to respond quickly to the emergence of new zoonotic diseases by developing new processes for the production of medicines like vaccines and antibodies for animal and human health needs. As an adequate tool to control infectious diseases, vaccination is integral to protecting both animals and people, but is still under-used around the world. The WHO's Immunisation Week, held every April, aims to raise awareness of the life-saving benefits of vaccines.
Expanding to human viral targets
‘We are developing the process of vaccine manufacturing, so we can show that at the end of the project it will be possible to manufacture a very high number of doses within a very limited timeline. The activity is to demonstrate that we can deliver control tools – therapeutic antibodies and/or vaccines – between 8 and 12 weeks after the identification of the pathogenic viruses,' explains ZAPI project coordinatorJean-Christophe Audonnet of Bio R&D, Merial S.A.S. (now part of Boehringer Ingelheim).