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Novel strategies for the prevention and control of persistent infections

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Solutions against persistent infections

Persistent infections in farm animals have serious socioeconomic implications. The NOPERSIST study is focused on obtaining effective drug formulations and diagnostic reagents to combat the phenomenon.

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Europe suffers extensive economic losses every year due to livestock infections caused by pathogens like Mycoplasma and Haemophilus species. Diagnosis is difficult and time consuming, thereby hampering prompt treatment and allowing for disease spread. The EU-funded 'Novel strategies for the prevention and control of persistent infections' (NOPERSIST) project wished to address this issue by developing novel diagnostics and drugs. The consortium focused on natural products as well as synthetic compounds and screened them in combination against drug-resistant pathogen isolates. Project partners tested over 24 000 substances for pathogen inhibition of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTb) — the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB). They were particularly interested in discovering inhibitory compounds against RNA polymerase resistant to the standard drug Rifampicin. In other words, they were looking new compounds for the treatment of drug resistant MDR TB. The screen revealed 53 inhibitor compounds with promising drug properties. In addition, novel antibiotic cocktail was developed which showed promising activity against drug resistant strains in-vitro and also in animal experiments. The consortium made important advancement concerning the diagnosis of active TB. For the first time, a test was developed which correctly diagnoses active TB and does not cross react to healthy but infected individuals. Such a test is badly needed world-wide for diagnosing the patients suffering from active TB. A considerable part of the NOPERSIST work was devoted to basic research such as the genomic sequencing of Mycoplasma hyorhinis and Haemophilus parasuis. This enabled the consortium to advance pathogen gene expression libraries with a view to developing novel diagnostic tools and discovering future drug targets. A similar antigen library led to the identification of a promising vaccine antigen against TB. NOPERSIST scientists are confident that their findings will help provide novel assays for the prompt and efficient diagnosis of persistent infections in livestock. At the same time, they hope to provide drugs and vaccines for treating or preventing such infections in humans. Several patents were filed by SME LIONEX for protecting the IPR generated in the project.

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