$11m international plan to create sheep scour worm vaccine

Sheep Central, August 18, 2023

UNE Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology, Nicholas Andronicos.

AN $11 million plan to create a world-first vaccine for certain types of sheep worms has been hatched, but the discovery phase for a prototype is expected to take five years to complete.

The University of New England today said it will help solve one of the costliest problems for Australian sheep producers through an $11-million international research collaboration aimed at developing a vaccine for parasitic gastrointestinal worms such as the black scour worm and the brown stomach worm.

A world-first sheep vaccine for the Barber’s Pole worm, Barbervax, was launched in 2014, but UNE Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology, Nicholas Andronicos, said this did not protect sheep against other endemic species of gastrointestinal parasites that cause scouring.

“Therefore, if the Moredun Research Institute, University of Glasgow and University of New England research team is successful in developing an effective scour worm vaccine against black scour worm (T. colubriformis) and brown stomach worm (T. circumcincta), then this would be a world-first prototype vaccine against these scouring nematode pathogens,” he said.

With parasitism costing the Australian sheep and goat industry more than $450-million annually, Associate Professor Andronicos said an effective vaccine is sorely needed.

“In addition to the cost to producers, gastrointestinal worm infections can negatively impact the health and welfare of animals.

“By reducing inefficient practices like this through the development of a vaccine, we will be able to ensure the industry is operating as sustainably as possible,” he said.

Chemical treatments are currently the go-to for controlling gastrointestinal worm infections; however, the risk of parasitic resistance means it is not always reliable. The new vaccine aimed to eliminate the risk of parasitic resistance associated with current chemical treatments, bolstering the industry on an international scale, UNE said.

“We are excited to work with the Moredun Research Institute and our partners to combine our expertise in parasitology, immunology, and vaccine formulation to develop a long-awaited solution to this global problem,” Associate Professor Andronicos said.

The project has been co-funded by each of the partners, with matched funding from the Australian Government, through the Meat & Livestock Australia Donor Company. The discovery phase for the prototype vaccine is expected to take five years to complete.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Peter Small, August 23, 2023

    Driving around the Western District of Victoria at the moment paddocks are pull of daggy sheep like the ones in the photo above, and not many in the best of condition. This is not due to the lack of grass. It has been a terrific season. And with good management, it shouldn’t be gastrointestinal worms. Developing a vaccine may be helpful, but it is really looking in the wrong place.
    The problem is unhealthy soils; 70 years of heavy applications of chemicals, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus have destroyed the soil microbial activity essential for plant uptake of nutrients for healthy plants.
    Unhealthy soils = unhealthy animals = unhealthy people. It is the business model of big pharma to produce chemicals and industrial fertilizers to make the soils, the plants, the animals, the people a little bit sick, but not sick enough to die. This sounds cynical, but where is the scientific effort to restore the health of our soils? That is the place to start if we want to increase productivity of our farms and the health of our people.

Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -