GENERAL – In an innovative approach for the animal health sector, a global research network aimed at tackling some of the world’s most devastating animal diseases has been launched.
Bringing together thousands of scientists from research organisations across five continents, as well as the pharmaceutical industry and international animal health bodies, the network seeks to improve co-ordination of research activities to improve the control of the major current challenges and future disease outbreaks.
The Global Strategic Alliances for the Co-ordination of Research on the Major Infectious Diseases of Animals and Zoonoses (STAR-IDAZ) is funded by the European Commission and co-ordinated by the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Dr Timothy Hall, Head of Unit for Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, European Commission, said as global trade and livestock movement becomes more prevalent, the risk of disease spread and associated economic, environmental and health consequences also increases.
“We need to initiate a co-ordinated, global approach to disease research so that we are tackling existing and emerging diseases in the best possible way. Through the STAR-IDAZ network, we hope to align our efforts and share the knowledge gained from research bodies and institutions across the globe.”
Dr Alex Morrow, Veterinary Science Team at Defra, said by having a formalised network the group can share information, establish common goals and collaborate on research needed to control current and emerging disease challenges.
“By working in partnership we can achieve much more than we would in isolation, where resources can often be quite limited. A global co-ordinated approach means that new research and new technologies can be identified quickly and made a reality as soon as possible to improve animal health and well being.”
Diseases of major concern include: Avian Influenza; Foot and Mouth Disease; new strains of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV); and African Swine Fever.
The €1million EU-funded network will include the USA, Russia, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, China, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the UK. Other countries will feed in through regional networks being established in the Americas, Asia and Australasia, and in the future the Middle East and Africa. (Relevant international bodies such as the World Organisation for Animal Health – OIE – will also be associated.)
Pharmaceutical industry representatives in the STAR-IDAZ network will assist in identifying likely solutions that could prove viable for the animal health industry.
On behalf of the animal health industry, Pfizer Animal Health’s Peter Jeffries said the network launch represents a milestone in international disease research. “The global scope of this project will allow us to make significant progress in terms of infectious disease research, and bring about targeted and tangible control methods. We’re proud to be working alongside other animal health research bodies to ensure we are in the best position to tackle existing and emerging diseases around the world.”
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