Moredun has a significant research group studying Chlamydia abortus. This bacteria causes Ovine Enzootic Abortion (OEA) or Chlamydial Abortion of sheep, the most common infectious cause of abortion in sheep and goats in the UK.
Enzootic (chlamydial) abortion is a major cause of lamb mortality across the world and accounts for 44% of diagnosed infectious abortions in UK sheep (source: VIDA submissions 1995-2008). C. abortus invade the placenta during pregnancy which can lead to abortion or the birth of weak lambs.
The aim is a better understanding of the immunological mechanisms underlying disease pathogenesis as well as the identification and characterization of chlamydial components that interact with the host, with a view to the development of improved vaccines and diagnostic tools.
The development and commercialisation of a Chlamydia abortus diagnostic blood-test has been a major achievement. The test allows for accurate diagnosis of the disease by offering high specificity and sensitivity of detection. The test detects the presence of antibodies to C. abortus in blood samples from infected sheep using an indirect ELISA technique.
Specific objectives include:
- Identification of the immunological correlates of protection;
- Identification of mechanisms of disease pathogenesis in the placenta and uterus;
- Identification and characterization of chlamydial pathogenicity factors, such as those of the type V secretion system that are the focus on an on-going project funded under the BBSRC CEDFAS initiative, using genomic, bioinformatic and proteomic approaches;
- Development of improved serological and molecular tools for the specific detection of chlamydial species;
- Investigation of the protective efficacy of membrane fractions and recombinant proteins in pregnant mouse and sheep models of infection;
- conducting deep genome sequencing of C. abortus and C. pecorum strains to investigate strain variation in collaboration with the Sanger Institute; and
- Studying the prevalence of novel Chlamydia-like organisms in UK cattle.
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