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Vaccine Investigators Use Bacterium's Own Protein Against It

A team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and university scientists is investigating a new “ingredient” for use in vaccinating cattle against Johne’s disease, a chronic wasting affliction that costs the U.S. dairy industry more than $200 million per year.

The ingredient in question is a type of protein on the surface of the bacterium Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), which causes Johne’s disease.

The researchers found that the protein, dubbed 35 kDa membrane peptide, helps the bacterium invade epithelial cells lining the cow's small intestine, thickening it and blocking the uptake of nutrients from feed or forage. This can lead to diarrhea, weight loss, diminished milk production and sometimes death. Calves are especially vulnerable and if their mothers are infected, they can acquire the bacterium from...

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