Combatting anthalminthic resistance in ruminants

Parasitic helminth pathogens cause serious disease and are among the most production-limiting diseases of grazing ruminants. The frequent use of anthelmintics to control these infections has led to the selection of drug-resistant helminth populations. Anthelmintic resistance is now present in all major helminth species in Europe and worldwide.

The aim of COMBAR is to advance research on the prevention of anthelmintic resistance in ruminant parasitic helminths in Europe and to disseminate current knowledge among all stakeholders. By bringing together parasitologists, social scientists and agricultural economists, COMBAR brings together a multidisciplinary group of scientists who normally rarely interact. The integration of SMEs and industry into the consortium will facilitate the dissemination of knowledge and new technologies in the field of animal health.

COMBAR will integrate new developments in (i) diagnostic tests; (ii) vaccines to protect animals against infections; (iii) anti-parasitic forages, (iv) selective treatment strategies and (iv) decision support tools. By assessing these new technologies and their economic trade-offs and barriers to their adoption in a coordinated European approach, COMBAR will tackle anthelmintic resistance.

Objectives of the project

1. Research coordination

The overall objective of the project is to advance, consolidate and disseminate research and knowledge on the prevention of anthelmintic diseases in ruminants.

Previous research has led to the evaluation of innovative strategies to mitigate adverse effects. Specifically, through the development of (i) new diagnostic tests for helminthic infections and the detection of anthelmintic resistance; (ii) vaccines to protect animals from infection and prevent further spread; (iii) targeted strategies for selective medical treatment; and (iv) decision support tools. However, none of these initiatives alone can address the spread of anthelmintic resistance. Researchers from these different institutes need to interact to develop more comprehensive and effective ways to manage anthelmintic resistance and, in addition, to implement research and development programmes for these field tools. To date, knowledge of each of these disciplines has remained largely concentrated within specialized research projects and associated consortia.

The aim of this project is therefore to bridge the gap between the different disciplines that have developed individual approaches to combating anthelmintic resistance in ruminants. This will result in new and intelligent combinations of alternative and complementary technologies and best practice guidelines. To reach key players in the animal health industry, we also need to understand how veterinarians, farmers and pharmaceutical companies perceive helminth control and how proposed approaches to address anthelmintic resistance can be implemented in different farming environments and practices across Europe. Therefore, we also need to integrate techniques and knowledge from hitherto untapped areas of science, specifically, (i) economics to understand the financial benefits and trade-offs involved in implementing new methods to control anthelmintic resistance, and (ii) social science to understand human behaviour with respect to helminth control, e.g. anthelmintics, product selection and barriers to implementation of best practice advice.

2. Skills development

It is essential to disseminate and further develop knowledge to combat anthelmintic resistance throughout Europe and to bring these new technologies to the animal health sector. This project will put a strong emphasis on providing training in new techniques and establishing links with the private sector to ensure that these new technologies are brought to market. The technical know-how of the network will support efforts to bring new tools to the market and enable veterinary practitioners and farmers to use them more fully.

Therefore, training workshops and scientific trips will be organised on specific topics :

  • New laboratory diagnostics and screening for helminthic infections and anthelmintic resistance.
  • Non-chemoprophylactic control approaches.
  • Modeling of helminth epidemiology and control measures.
  • Economics of animal health and production.
  • Socio-psychological science methodologies in animal health research. In addition, pilot studies will be organised on the market introduction of multi-species diagnostic tools and an exhibition/fair to present the academic technology to animal health companies at both national and European level.

Modification date : 11 September 2023 | Publication date : 13 December 2019 | Redactor : AC