Home News Press Releases First ever licensed vaccine against major cause of epilepsy in developing world

Vaccine will protect against the fourth highest foodborne hazard ranked by WHO, which causes approximately 30% of epilepsy cases in humans in the developing world.

(20/07/2016) – An innovative vaccine technology developed by Professor Marshall Lightowlers at the University of Melbourne has become the first licensed vaccine for the zoonotic pig disease porcine cysticercosis.

Neurocysticercosis is a neglected disease caused by infection with the parasitic worm Taenia solium transmitted by pigs. It is most commonly found in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa and is most prevalent in rural areas where pigs are allowed to roam freely.

Humans can be infected when they accidentally ingest infected pork (which leads to an intestinal infection) or infective eggs, which leads to neurocysticercosis, an infection of the nervous system that causes epilepsy and is the main cause of acquired epilepsy in the developing world. The disease is a serious public health and agricultural problem and causes around five million human cases and 50,000 human deaths each year.

A recent study on the vaccine was featured in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, which studied the effects of the TSOL18 vaccination and other disease control measures in one highly endemic region in Peru. It determined that the vaccine made an important contribution to preventing the transmission of porcine cysticercosis, which was interrupted in this area through antiparasitic treatments and TSOL18 vaccination.

Melbourne Laureate Professor Marshall Lightowlers, Principal Research Fellow with the National and Medical Research Council and Professor in the Faculty of Veterinary Science at The University of Melbourne said:

“The publication of results from a trial undertaken to eliminate Taenia solium transmission from the Tumbes region of northern Peru represents an important step in the prevention of epilepsy caused by parasitic infections. The contribution of the TSOL18 vaccine for pigs was found to be critical to achieving the highest level of disease control. Our challenge for the future is to develop an effective strategy for use of the vaccine in the many poor communities around the world where this parasitic disease is prevalent.”

The TSOL18 vaccine technology, known as Cysvax®, will be for sale in India through Indian Immunological Limited by the end of 2016. This is the first step towards expansion of the vaccine licensing (known as registration) in other countries as licensing in the country of manufacture is typically a prerequisite to other country licences.

Dr Anand Kumar, Managing Director of Indian Immunologicals Ltd. said:

“Indian Immunologicals Ltd is unique in many ways. We are truly a research to market company offering cost effective biological solutions to various unmet needs. IIL has been a trusted player in animal and human vaccines and it is only natural that our company has attempted to address a problem (Cysticercosis) that affects both animals and human beings. Collaborating with scientifically sound partners such as University of Melbourne and GALVmed, it is a proud moment for us to offer Cysvax, the world’s first licensed vaccine for Cysticercosis. We believe that effective administration of the vaccine in a programme will help reduce the incidence of epilepsy in the developing world.”

The University of Melbourne, Indian Immunologicals Limited and GALVmed (the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines) have collaborated in a public-private partnership for five years to make the vaccine available to those in the developing world where porcine cysticercosis has a tremendous effect on human health and the economy. The next step will be to raise awareness of the available vaccine and ensure that the people who need it the most can easily access it. This step can substantially reduce the incidence of human cysticercosis to those in endemic countries.

“GALVmed is delighted with the news that the first vaccine for porcine cysticercosis has recently been registered for use in India and will be available through our partners, Indian Immunologicals Limited,” said Peter Jeffries, CEO of GALVmed. “Porcine cysticercosis is found in many countries of the world and has a devastating effect on human health and the economy. In India alone, more than 10 million people suffer from epilepsy, creating an economic burden estimated at US $1.7 billion per year. Thanks to the research work of Professor Marshall Lightowlers at the University of Melbourne and the development and manufacturing capabilities of Indian Immunologicals Limited, this vaccine will help reduce the health and economic impacts of this disease, transmitted to humans after eating infected pork.”

The registration of the Cysvax® vaccine, which protects against porcine cysticercosis, is a major step towards the integrated control of the prevalent human disease – cysticercosis/neurocysticercosis. Alongside Cysvax®, GALVmed also supports the country licensing and distribution of antiparasitic treatment (Paranthic®) with Moroccan-based manufacturing partner, MCI Sante Animale. Paranthic® will be used alongside Cysvax® to control the cystic stage of the parasite in pigs, which breaks the life cycle of the tapeworm that is transmitted to humans.

GALVmed has provided financial support to support for the vaccine licensing process of the Cysvax® vaccine and Paranthic® antiparasitic treatment, through its funding from the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. GALVmed also provides direct expertise on the vaccine licensing process.



Notes to the editor:

  • Melbourne Laureate Professor Marshall Lightowlers is Principal Research Fellow with the National and Medical Research Council and Professor in the Faculty of Veterinary Science at The University of Melbourne. Professor Lightowlers’ research career has focused on the immunology and molecular biology of taenid cestode parasites.
  • The New England Journal of Medicine recently published the article “Elimination of Taenia solium Transmission in Northern Peru” (co-written by Professor Lightowlers) http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1515520?query=featured_home.
  • Indian Immunologicals Ltd is the market leader in veterinary biologicals in India and operates one of the largest plants in the world for veterinary vaccines. IIL is the third largest animal health player in India with the popular Raksha FMD Vaccine. IIL is based in Hyderabad, India.
  • GALVmed, through its partners, makes livestock vaccines, medicines and diagnostics accessible and available to the millions of smallholder livestock and poultry keepers in developing countries for whom livestock is a lifeline.
  • GALVmed harnesses the best available expertise and capabilities to develop vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for neglected livestock diseases impacting smallholders in Africa and South Asia.
  • Around 600 million people living in poverty rely on their livestock for daily needs. When disease strikes, the loss of livestock or reduced production impacts food security and nutrition, the provision of education, basic healthcare and limits choice and opportunity.  For more information, please visit galvmed.org
  • GALVmed is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Government.


Heather Irish

Communications Officer

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