RESEARCH COLLABORATIONS

New research facility to produce disease-resistant livestock

SOURCE: Seyllou/AFP
The new facility will be a hub for academia-industry research to develop healthier livestock and more.


By U2B Staff 

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A new agricultural technology research facility at the University of Edinburgh will serve as an avenue for academia and industry collaboration to seek new solutions for the betterment of human health. 

Named the Large Animal Research Imaging Facility (LARIF), the hub was officially opened by the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy chief scientific adviser Professor John Loughhead. 

It aims to enhance food security and provide health solutions through research on the production of better livestock that are genetically more resistant to disease. The facility will also work on the development of improved vaccines for animals.  

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“Agricultural technologies are a sometimes unrecognized but important component in supporting the agriculture industry to cut its emissions and develop sustainable farming practices. … LARIF illustrates the positive effects of successful collaboration between academia, industry and the government in spreading knowledge and expertise while developing the technologies of the future,” said Professor Loughhead according to a report by Feedstuffs.

The research conducted here will aim to safeguard human health by tackling foodborne infections spread by unhealthy livestock. This includes developing strategies against antimicrobial resistance. Besides that, LARIF will also be involved in developing treatments for diseases that affect people, such as neurological conditions.

This will be of great impact to human health as about 60 percent of all human diseases and about 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases such as swine flu and bird flu come from animal-to-human transmissions, and most of these instances have to to do with livestock. 

Agricultural Technology
The research facility will help with solutions to combat various animal-human diseases. Source: Ed Jones/AFP.

By targetting microbial infections in livestock, researchers can significantly reduce the adverse effects that come with consuming animal meat products. 

The facility is supported by a £25 million investment from the University of Edinburgh and the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), which includes a £10.6 million fund from Innovate UK.

LARIF is home to state-of-the-art facilities in agricultural technology. This includes imaging, surgical, gene editing and infection containment facilities that allow world-class researchers to conduct in-depth studies into the health and wellbeing for major farmed livestock. 

The facility will also house a Critical Care Laboratory for Large Animals which will support the study of large animal biology with equivalent resources of a human hospital. 

The agricultural technology facility will be manned by highly skilled veterinarians who will provide around-the-clock care for animals involved in studies carried out in the facility.

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Research carried out on large animals here will contribute to ongoing research on human conditions and diseases. This will reduce the need to test treatments on cell cultures or lab mice while yielding more effective results by developing treatments with large animals. 

The facility is based at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies’ Easter Bush Campus. It will operate alongside equally prestigious facilities such as The Roslin Institute and the Allermuir Avian Innovation and Skills Centre. 

“LARIF is a unique and world-leading facility that significantly enhances our ability to study human and animal health. Taking this multidisciplinary approach is a key focus for the university and can lead to significant advances in medicine, veterinary medicine and agricultural science,” said the University of Edinburgh Head of the Royal (Dic) School of Veterinary Studies professor David John Argyle.