Marek’s disease: An animal model of the potential outcomes of imperfect vaccines

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Marek’s disease is a T-cell lymphoma of chickens that reduces the productivity of the poultry industry. First described in the early 20th century, the disease came to prominence following the intensification of chicken production in the 1960s. Subsequently, developed vaccines were able to prevent the expression of disease. However, while Marek’s disease vaccines prevent disease, they do not protect vaccinated birds from being infected with field strains of the virus. The development and application of ways to address this issue will be presented. The risks of using “imperfect” vaccines which do not address all aspects of infection will be explored.

Prof Timothy Mahony's research interests revolve around the development of new and innovative ways to improve disease control in livestock industries. A central theme of his research is the development of vaccines that address industry problems that can be used within the constraints of industry practice to enable adoption. The first-generation vaccine from his work has been licensed to an international veterinary health company for commercialisation. Timothy's research group also aims better understand economically important diseases of livestock to inform the development of improved control strategies. This includes understanding the molecular basis of viral virulence, antigen expression, and novel delivery technologies.

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