Necrotic enteritis is a severe gastroenteritis in chickens costing the global poultry industry an estimated US$2 billion a year. Currently controlled by antibiotics, the development of a vaccine to reduce the reliance on antibiotics would help ensure the sustainability of an industry that employs over 145,000 Australians.
Keyburn took part in Showcasing CRC Early Career Scientists, a highlight of the Cooperative Research Centres Association Conference, chaired by Professor Lyn Beazley, Chief Scientist of Western Australia.
In his three minute presentation, Keyburn provided a succinct account of how he was able to determine that a toxin (alpha-toxin) produced by the disease was not an essential virulence factor (ability of microorganism to cause disease) in the pathogenesis of necrotic enteritis in chickens.
The development of a vaccine depends on the success of identifying the mechanisms that cause the disease. By eliminating what was thought to cause necrotic enteritis in chickens, Keyburn and his team can now further their research to identify what does cause necrotic enteritis with the prospect of developing a vaccine in a follow-up project.