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Every year, World Antibiotic Awareness Week (WAAW November 18th- 24th) is marked by the United Nations' organizations as well as governments, health facilities, schools and communities across the globe. The campaign highlights best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to help reduce further emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance.

Although antimicrobials are vital to defend people, animals and plants against infections, their misuse and overuse can lead to their failure as microbes develop resistance to these life-saving treatments. We have taken this opportunity to highlight BARD-funded research projects that face these global challenges and offer an attempt at non-antibiotic approaches to treating mastitis and staphylococcal infections in dairy cattle.
Dr. Gabriel Leitner from the Kimron Vetetrinary Institute in Israel together with Prof. Naomi Balaban from Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in the US, worked jointly on exploring an alternative to antibiotic treatment of staphylococcal mastitis. Staphylococci are one of the most common causes of the costliest mammary disease of dairy cattle worldwide.

The aim of this study was to test the safety and efficacy of recombinant TRAP (rTRAP) vaccine in dairy animals. TRAP is an important key molecule that regulates pathogenesis because when TRAP phosphorylation is inhibited by anti TRAP antibodies or by peptide inhibitors, the bacteria do not form a biofilm, do not produce toxins and do not cause infections.

The results of this study indicate the value of the rTRAP vaccine in preventing new udder infections by staphylococci, which significantly leads to lowered levels of staphylococci, and some increase in milk production. What's more, TRAP may serve as a universal anti-staphylococcus vaccine replacing antibiotic treatment.

Dr. Sharon Schlesinger from the Hebrew University's Faculty of Agriculture worked jointly with Prof. Nahum Shpigel from the Koret veterinary school and Dr. John Lippolis from the USDA- ARS National Animal Disease Center, in the US, on exploring a possible treatment and prevention of mastitis in dairy cows using stem-cell-based therapy. Mastitis, an inflammatory response of the mammary tissue to invading pathogenic bacteria, is a major animal health and welfare problem in the dairy industry and is responsible for multibillion dollars of economic losses.

Although improved hygiene and management techniques reduced and even eradicated some forms of the disease, mastitis still prevails in many dairy farms. In recent years, mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) were extensively studied and their efficacy and safety were proven for therapeutic used in many inflammatory conditions in veterinary and human medicine.

The researchers aimed to study for the first time the safety, feasibility and efficacy of bovine mesenchymal stem cells, MSCs, for the treatment of bovine mastitis. They hypothesized that allogeneic MSCs will populate inflamed mammary glands and will alleviate inflammation and improve bacteriological cure, thus reducing the use of antibiotics in dairy herds. They also established experimental systems that will enable them to study the underlying molecular mechanisms involved and motivate the adoption of this techniques for the treatment of other important conditions such as bovine metritis.