Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the most urgent problems of our generation. It is already the cause of 700,000 human deaths every year and this figure is projected to rise to 10 million each year by 2050 if the problem is left unresolved. That’s more deaths than are currently caused by cancer (O’Neill, 2016).
Vaccination is key measure to help reduce dependence on antibiotics and therefore mitigate the increase in antimicrobial resistance ( AMR)
Vaccines elicit immune responses, provide protection against microorganisms and are considered as one of the most successful medical interventions against infectious diseases. Vaccines can be produced using attenuated virus or bacteria, recombinant proteins, bacterial polysaccharides, carbohydrates or plasmid DNA. Conventional vaccines rely on the induction of immune responses against antigenic proteins to be effective. The genetic diversity of microorganisms, coupled with the high degree of sequence variability in antigenic proteins, presents a challenge to developing broadly effective conventional vaccines.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that by 2050 the demand for food will grow by 60% with an annual increase in the production of animal proteins of around 1.7%. With the improvement of household income and increase in protein meat consumption it is projected by 2050 meat production will rise by nearly 70%, aquaculture by 90% and dairy by 55%.
Animal feeds play a leading role in the global food industry, ensuring safe, abundant and affordable animal protein production throughout the world.
Using plants for example seeds, grains and leaves as ‘bioreactors’ to produce proteins of interest has significant potential. The technology where either field grown, glasshouse grown or post harvest biomass is utilised as the host production system offers a number of benefits.
Vaccines produced in plants are free of toxins and pathogens associated with traditional vaccines. More over when the vaccines are produced in plant background that can then be incorporated into a feed formulation, it offers ease of vaccination via oral presentation and at the same tiem induce a mucal immune response which is the first barrier against invading pathogens.