2015 - 2019

Delivery of immunostimulatory oligodeoxynucleotides containing CpG motifs to broiler chickens as an alternative to antibiotics

Principal Investigator: Susantha Gomis, University of Saskatchewan
Co-investigator: Suresh Tikoo, University of Saskatchewan; Marianna Foldvari, University of Waterloo
Status: In progress


To develop an environment controlled CpG-ODN delivery aerosol chamber that can be used for 10,000 chicks at a time prior to chick transportation.


The emergence and rising spread of resistant bacteria are rendering current antibiotics less useful.  Thus, there is pressure to restrict the use of antibiotics in agriculture, while at the same time antibiotics are becoming less effective in treating infections.  Therefore there is a need for alternative strategies for infectious disease control. The innate component of the immune system detects infection by recognizing features characteristic of infectious organisms as ‘danger’ signals.  This triggers a response capable of limiting a variety of infection.  One of these ‘danger’ signals is a pattern characteristic of bacterial DNA, known as CpG motifs.  Administration of synthetic CpG-containing oligonucleotides (CpG-ODN) mimic a bacterial infection, resulting in activation of the innate immune system against any microbial agents, particularly bacteria, allowing the host to clear the bacterial infection even before antigen specific immune responses are developed. Although the innate immune system of broiler chickens are developed at hatch the innate immune response systems is not activated hence microbial agents especially bacterial pathogens can infect neonatal broiler chickens at the time of placement in the barn. Immunostimulation of the innate immune system of neonatal chickens helps to eradicate pathogenic bacteria.  It is critically important to reduce the first week mortality of neonatal chickens due to bacterial infections and boost their immune system in order to improve the productivity and profitability of the poultry industry. Intranasal delivery of CpG-ODN is advantageous compared to in ovo delivery as intranasal delivery results in immunostimulation for the entire first week of the neonatal chicken life which is the most vulnerable period for bacterial infections. Therefore the goal of this research is to evaluate and develop an environment controlled CpG-ODN delivery aerosol chamber to reduce the use of antimicrobials while maintaining or improving the health, productivity and welfare of chickens.


$546,000 ($25,000 CPRC, $273,000 NSERC, $120,000 Saskatchewan Chicken Industry Development Fund, $64,000 Sunrise Poultry Hatchery BC (in-kind), $64,000 Prairie Pride Natural Foods Ltd (in-kind))

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