Reagent network to benefit veterinary immunologists

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The Department of Agriculture has announced a $2.15 million grant for a Veterinary Immune Reagent Network to develop tools for veterinary immunologists.

The network will develop disease-fighting compounds and molecules into diagnostic and research reagents—biologic tools for characterizing and treating disease.

Researchers with the network will focus on diseases in cattle, swine, poultry, horses, and several species of fish. Each species group has a goal of producing 20 new reagents in the next four years.

The principal investigator is Cynthia Baldwin, PhD, a professor of virology and microbiology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, who is also the leader for the cattle group. The group leaders will identify proteins and genes specific to their species and submit genetic material to a central laboratory in Amherst.

Leaders at the USDA Agricultural Research Service will head the swine and poultry groups. The University of Kentucky will head the horse group, while the U.S. Geological Survey's Western Fisheries Research Center will head the salmonid group.

Dr. Bettina Wagner, an immunologist at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, is another participant in the project. Her group will work on developing reagents from the receptor proteins on the surface of cells that recognize foreign structures such as viral or bacterial components.