STILLWATER, Okla. – Two Oklahoma State University researchers have received a US patent in connection with their Shipping Fever-related research. Sahlu Ayalew, PhD, assistant research professor, and Anthony Confer, DVM, PhD, a Regents professor and Endowed Chair in Food Animal Research, are both with the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology at OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences.

They hold Patent No. 7,794,734, B2 for “Mannheimia haemolytica Chimeric Outer Membrane Protein PLPE and Leukotoxin Epitopes as a Vaccine or Vaccine component against Shipping Fever.” It is estimated that bovine respiratory disease (BRD)/Shipping Fever costs Oklahoma ranchers as much as $200 million annually. On a nationwide basis, BRD costs the beef cattle industry more than $800 million per year in lost productivity, death losses and treatment costs.

Ayalew explained the researchers took the genes for the immunodominant epitope of the outer membrane protein, PlpE, and the leukotoxin neutralizing epitope for leukotoxin and engineered them such that the engineered gene expresses one protein (chimeric protein). “Vaccination of calves with the new protein is as effective as vaccination with the two whole proteins and eliminates the toxicity of leukotoxin. Production of the new protein requires less work and less time overall without compromising the end result,” Ayalew added.

Efforts will now be made to market the protein to animal-health companies that could use the protein in a vaccine to help prevent Shipping Fever, a common component of bovine respiratory disease.