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New development in Valley fever vaccine for companion animals

With 12 million dogs in the southwestern United States, cases of Valley fever are increasing and can be very costly

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A novel Valley fever sub-unit vaccine for companion animals has been found by Mazen Animal Health to reduce the burden of coccidioides—the fungus that can cause Valley fever—in mice.

“We are thrilled with the early animal-model results showing the vaccine-reduced fungal burden in mice, followed by our successful challenge study in mice with this patent-pending product,” said Jenny Filbey, PhD, CEO of Mazen Animal Health. “A Valley fever vaccine is a great fit with Mazen’s focus on addressing unmet needs in animal health.”

Valley fever is a fungal infection that leads to disease not only in humans, but also dogs and other species, including llamas and alpacas. There is currently no vaccine for Valley fever, partly because the antigen is poorly expressed in microbial systems, leading to a high cost of production.

With funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Applied Biotechnology Institute has produced a sub-unit vaccine candidate in maize grain at levels a hundred-fold higher than what is possible with traditional fermentation. Maize-produced antigen allows for both injectable and chewable formats for vaccination. Sub-unit vaccines are considered one of the safest approaches to vaccines.

Valley fever can last years and is currently treated with expensive anti-fungal medications. It can also cause severe lung, spleen, and bone infection, often leading to death.

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