Breakthrough research in koala disease
The iconic koala is a protected species and was listed by the Australian Government in 2012 as vulnerable in Queensland. One of the factors seriously challenging koala numbers is the disease chlamydia and its resultant infertility.
USC microbiologists, Professor Peter Timms and Dr Adam Polkinghorne, have spent the past five years leading a team of collaborators towards the goal of developing a vaccine to fight this devastating disease. After a series of trials in captive animals, they have now conducted the world's first successful field trial of a vaccine against chlamydia in koalas. The vaccinated animals have shown good immune responses to the vaccine, and importantly, decreased chlamydia infection levels.
While funding from the Australian Research Council and industry partners has supported this work thus far, and will fund further basic research, if we want to get the vaccine to the next stage, and out into the field to be used by the populations most under threat, then more funds are urgently needed.
Help us protect koalas
With the initial success of this research, Professor Timms and Dr Polkinghorne are now focused on finding the funds to enable the vaccination program to continue and expand.
"We feel compelled to start using this vaccine more broadly especially when we know that it is safe and has some definite positive benefit to the animals," said Professor Timms.
While the University will continue to engage with a variety of possible funders, it is hoped that philanthropic support may also be forthcoming.
"Ideally a significant donation would see this program rolled out across a number of populations, but even funds to vaccinate individual koalas would make a difference," said Professor Timms.
With this in mind, a special fund has been established for those who would like to contribute towards the koala vaccination research project. By making a donation to support the vaccination of a koala, you will help to reduce chlamydia infection levels and improve female reproductive rates in threatened koala populations.
100% of your donation will go towards the Koala research project, and any donations over $2 are tax deductible.
For more information on donating to this project contact Mr Russell Ousley, Director, USC Development Office.
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