Following its strategy named “Industry Questions, Academics Answer”, the Council of Agriculture (COA) founded the Animal Vaccine Alliance through the Agricultural Technology Research Institute (ATRI) with the objective of fostering the exchange between the government, industry, and the academic sectors. Its mission is to achieve an in-depth understanding of the practical needs of enterprises, then to actively develop competitive monovalent and multivalent vaccines, adjuvants, and disease detection reagents for international export, by combining the expertise and efforts of the Vaccine R&D Team comprising experts from ATRI, the Animal Health Research Institute and universities. For the past three years, efforts in expanding export markets and enhancing import substitution have yielded positive results with a 79% increase in the export of domestically produced animal vaccines and a 10% fall in imports.
Latest global trend: Utilizing vaccines to ensure food safety
The COA stated that according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), an estimated 20% of food-producing animal deaths worldwide were caused by diseases, which translate to a loss in production value of over NT$9 trillion. In order to prevent animal diseases, the practice of adding antibiotics to the feed was common in the past but due to the recent concern about antibiotic resistance and food safety, many countries’ governments started to adopt a more conservative stance on the use of antibiotics and began to widely utilize animal vaccines in the hope of reducing both the occurrence of disease and the use of antibiotics. All these efforts aim to safeguard consumers' health and food safety while promoting safe agriculture.
Reverse vaccinology technology platform has introduced advanced technology and developed computer assisted animal vaccines
The COA explained that the reverse vaccinology technology platform is considered to be the most sophisticated method of antigen discovery, initially used for developing human vaccine. By using computer analysis to find protein components that can be used for subunit vaccines, the platform demonstrably increases R&D efficiency. The ATRI established this technology platform by incorporating traditional vaccine development methods and adopting various novel biotechnologies such as molecular biology, fermentation engineering and protein purification technology. Many innovative monovalent and multivalent vaccines, adjuvants, and disease detection reagents have been developed successfully through the platform. The effectiveness of these innovative products was verified by utilizing animal disease models, immunology and clinical pathology. The R&D results and technology will eventually be transferred to domestic manufacturers for further commercialization and internationalization.
National Innovation Award presented for Innovative domestic animal vaccine
The COA indicated that in order to assist domestic enterprises to expand into the international market, the ATRI has signed a global license agreement of monovalent swine Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae with Bayer Taiwan in 2016 and the product will be launched in 2017. The swine enzootic pneumonia subunit vaccine and the Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae vaccine were licensed to Reber Genetics Co., Ltd. and the corresponding technology transfer contract was also signed by the two parties. Moreover, the Mycoplasma hyorhinis subunit vaccine developed by ATRI which applied core technologies such as immunogenic proteins, soluble antigens, an innovative adjuvant and new methods of vaccine efficacy evaluation, was awarded the 13th annual National Innovation Award, demonstrating Taiwan’s outstanding technical innovation capability.
Exciting new horizons for animal vaccines promised by steady growth
The COA further explained that the global animal vaccine industry continues to grow steadily each year by 5% to 7% and is expected to reach a total production value of NT$266.7 billion in 2019. Following the trend, the rapid development of an internationally competitive product can assist animal vaccine enterprises to take up market share while reducing the risk of infectious epidemics and thus stabilize or even increase farmers' profits. In recent years, following the policy of import substitution and export expansion, the COA have revised and enhanced the registration framework in order to shorten the commercialization process of innovative vaccines. It has also promoted the alliance between industry, academic, and research sectors in line with the “Industry Questions, Academics Answer” strategy. Furthermore, the Council gave full support to ATRI, the Animal Health Research Institute, and universities to form a vaccine R&D team and to build a key technology platform. A total of 11 vaccines and diagnostic reagents have been developed in the past three years, among which the technologies of 4 products were transferred successfully with total royalties of over NT$50 million. In the meantime, the COA worked alongside the Animal Vaccine Alliance in promoting the development of the animal vaccine industry so as to expand the domestic and export market. According to the figures provided by Customs, animal vaccine exports grew 79% in the past three years while imports fell by 10%. The COA stated that the Council would continue to integrate different emerging cutting-edge technologies, develop innovative animal vaccine products and more efficient technology platforms, enhance the commercialization and internationalization of resulting R&D, and lead the animal vaccine industry to towards exciting new horizons.
R&D result of the mycoplasma hyorhinis subunit vaccine.
R&D result of the mycoplasma hyorhinis antibody test kit.
50L fermentation pilot production laboratory.
Fast protein purification system.