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Method to vaccinate insects may help save the bees

HoneybeesPrimeBee, a vaccination method for honeybees and other pollinators, could protect the insects from bacterial diseases that can cause disastrous hive loss. The discovery comes from research by Dalial Freitak, PhD, and Heli Salmela, PhD, at the University of Helsinki.

In recent years, the decline of pollinators has threatened food production around the world and has sparked the need for solutions. This vaccination method may be one of them.

Before this discovery, vaccination of insects was not thought possible because of the lack of antibodies in the insects' systems.

"Now we've discovered the mechanism to show that you can actually vaccinate them. You can transfer a signal from one generation to another," Dr. Freitak said in a press release.

A vaccine dose is given as an edible sugar patty containing the vaccine, to be consumed by a single queen over 10 days.

When a queen bee eats something with pathogens in it, the pathogen signature molecules are bound by a protein called vitellogenin. Vitellogenin then carries these signature molecules into the queen's eggs, where they work as inducers for future immune responses.

The first aim with PrimeBee is to develop a vaccine against American foulbrood, the most widespread of the bee brood diseases.

"If we can help honey bees to be healthier and if we can save even a small part of the bee population with this invention, I think we have done our good deed and saved the world a little bit," Dr. Freitak said in the press release.

The vaccination method is in the midst of being commercialized. A spinoff company based on the invention, Dalan Animal Health, is in the planning stages.

2018-19 AVMA fellows placed in congressional offices

The AVMA announced Oct. 30, 2018, that the two fellows in the 2018-19 AVMA Fellowship Program have secured yearlong placements as full-time staff in congressional offices. Drs. Meera Chandra and Fred Lehman will use their training and expertise to provide counsel to their respective offices on a broad range of issues.

Dr. Chandra is serving in the office of Sen. Steve Daines of Montana. Dr. Chandra's areas of responsibility include public health, animal health, and food safety.

Dr. Lehman is serving in the office of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska. Dr. Lehman's areas of responsibility include wildlife conservation, agriculture, small-business issues, environment, and nutrition.

Clinical Scholars program impacts 'wicked problems' in health

The Clinical Scholars program is seeking veterinarians for its interdisciplinary teams of health professionals. Applicant organizations must assemble a team of two to five members representing different health professions to impact a "wicked problem" preventing a culture of health in a local community.

The program is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and led by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. During the three-year program, participants attend seven on-site training retreats, participate in distance-based learning, and benefit from executive coaching and mentoring. Participants receive a $35,000 fellowship each year, and all program-related travel is supported.

The application period is from Jan. 11 through March 13. See details at the Clinical Scholars website.

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Related JAVMA content:

Federal directive brings veterinarians and beekeepers together (Oct. 15, 2016)

Resources on veterinary feed directives cover honeybees, aquaculture (May 1, 2017)

AVMA selects 2018-19 congressional fellows (Sept. 1, 2018)