Vaccine developer studies Asian long-horned tick

Animal health company Medgene is studying the Asian long-horned tick and the possibility of developing vaccines for the diseases it can carry.

Medgene founder and researcher Dr. Alan Young tells Brownfield they received a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study this tick because of its impact on livestock including cattle. “It directly has an impact on cattle health and productivity, but it also has the potential to carry a number of diseases, both of animals and of humans.”

Young says Medgene is already doing similar studies, and he will test technology used in their Texas Cattle Fever tick vaccine on the Asian longhorned tick, and adjust the vaccine as needed. “The animal mounts an immune response, so that as the tick feeds on the animal, it’s basically poisoning itself and so that shuts down the spread of the tick itself, but in the process, it also shuts down the disease.”

A USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant funds the first phase of the project starting in July, where they will test a vaccine on cattle to determine if it generates the correct immune response.  He says future testing will look at limiting tick numbers and disease spread in the field.

The sesame seed-sized Asian long-horned tick has been spreading across North America from east to west, and has caused cattle health problems in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri.

Dr. Alan Young with Medgene discusses tick study with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

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