Sub-unit recombinant vaccines are urgently required to control the intestinal disease coccidiosis, a major threat to the global poultry industry caused by seven species of protozoan parasites of the genus Eimeria. Research into the molecular mechanisms of parasite invasion aligned to genetic mapping of immune phenotypes led to the identification of some highly promising candidate vaccine antigens. Three of these, AMA1, MIC3 and IMP1 individually protect chickens against parasite challenge by ~40-60% when used as vaccines. High resolution protein structures have been solved for these antigens from Eimeria tenella and orthologous genes sequenced from the other Eimeria species that infect chickens. This programme seeks to use the structural and sequence data to improve vaccine efficacy and broaden immunoprotection through the design, expression and testing of novel hybrid antigens.
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