U of S VIDO finds new link between stress and disease susceptibility

    SASKATOON, SK, Dec. 19 /CNW/ - Shedding light on the link between stress
and disease, scientists at the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and
Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) have uncovered for the first time signs
of stress in proteins and other compounds found in blood that can help predict
disease susceptibility.
    In a study in cattle, the researchers found that psychological and
physical stressors cause detectable changes in these blood compounds. These
"biomarkers" can then be used to predict disease outcomes.
    "Our results could someday enable doctors or veterinarians to predict
whether a disease will develop and how severe it might be from a body fluid
sample such as blood," said principal investigator Palok Aich. "These findings
will help improve treatment plans for possible disease outcomes."
    The research is published today in Omics: A Journal of Integrative
    It's well known that exposure to viruses or bacteria causes disease in
some individuals but not in others. This study helps clarify how the stress
level of an individual affects the infection process and disease severity.
    The team worked with a stress-linked cattle disease-bovine respiratory
disease (BRD), which causes more than half of feedlot deaths. In blood
samples, the researchers found a link between stress biomarkers and disease
    BRD involves interaction of viral and bacterial infections, making it a
perfect model to study the link between stress and disease.
    "In BRD and certain human diseases such as influenza, the combination of
a bacterial infection after an initial viral infection can be deadly," said
Philip Griebel, a VIDO senior scientist and co-investigator. "The better we
can recognize the signs suggesting a poor disease outcome, the better we can
manage or even prevent an illness."
    In the long term, changes in certain biomarkers could also help identify
disease-susceptible animals in feedlots or ranches for early intervention and
treatment, and help determine handling methods that minimize stress.
    Aich says more research is needed to link biomarkers to a specific
stressor and to understand which stressors contribute the most to enhanced
disease susceptibility.
    The team also includes VIDO/InterVac director Andrew Potter, former VIDO
director Lorne Babiuk, Gabrielle Schatte of the U of S's Saskatchewan
Structural Sciences Centre, and Andrew Ross of the National Research Council
of Canada's Plant Biotechnology Institute.
    Funding was provided by the Saskatchewan government through its
Agriculture Development Fund, the Ontario Cattlemen's Association, Genome
Prairie, Genome British Columbia, and Inimex Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

    The U of S's VIDO is a world leader in the research and development of
vaccine and immunity-enhancing technologies for humans and animals. VIDO is
leading construction of the International Vaccine Centre (InterVac), which
will be the largest Containment Level 3 vaccine research centre in Canada
dealing with both human and large animal diseases. InterVac will enhance a
life sciences research cluster unique in North America. www.vido.org

For further information:

For further information: Tess Laidlaw, VIDO Communications Officer,
(306) 966-1506, tess.laidlaw@usask.ca

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