At least one million dogs in the United States are infected annually with heartworm, and cases seen in veterinary clinics have increased by more than 20% since 2016. The disease is caused by Dirofilaria immitis and can be fatal if not treated. Preventive measures have been the best way to avoid the costs and risk of heartworm treatment. The recent emergence of drug resistance in North America has caused alarm and concern for both pet owners and veterinarians. Vaccination against the disease could provide a way to protect individuals while avoiding the growing problem of drug resistance. Researchers will do much-needed groundwork by identifying antigens needed to develop a vaccine against D. immitis. If successful, this vaccine will provide protection against multiple D. immitis strains and help combat the growing threat of drug resistance to heartworm medications.
Grant amount awarded
University of Liverpool
Benjamin L. Makepeace, MSc, PhD