The Center for Advanced Studies in Vaccinology & Biotechnology (CASVAB) was established in 2005 at University of Balochistan (UoB) with the funding of Higher Education Commission (HEC). The vaccine production and research in this field was a prime need of the country. The University of Balochistan has started CASVAB, as a center for higher studies to develop a model institute of biotechnological research and teaching activities while providing the vaccines on affordable prices to farming communities which should stand quality standards and this center would supply other biotechnological products, also.
The food animal’s vaccine production is being practiced at CASVAB for the last thirty years. Initially, the Veterinary Research Institute (VRI) was established in 1980 which started producing killed bacterial vaccines and later-on started producing live viral vaccines. The magnitude of all the vaccines were around 5-6 Million doses annually. After the transformation of VRI into CASVAB in 2005, it gradually built-up the capacity of producing different vaccines up to 20-22 Million doses annually and have tested capacity of 27 Million doses of different vaccines annually.
The mission for starting the CASVAB is to produce and provide cost-effective vaccines at the provincial, national, and international level as well, and to foster an environment that promotes learning through quality teaching and research. The center has highly educated and skilled faculty for ensuring to achieve their goals. The CASVAB produces qualified professionals in various fields including Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biotechnology, Physiology, and Nutrition/Toxicology.
The CASVAB has totally enrolled 191 M. Phil and 59 Ph. D scholars since its transformation. In 2017, alone 37 M. Phil and 17 Ph. D students have been enrolled in various disciplines. The CASVAB helped in establishing and running of Microbiology Department at University of Balochistan and also trained human resource for Microbiology Departments for Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University (SBKWU) and Balochistan University of Information Technology Engineering and Management sciences (BUITEMS).
The Center is aiming to improve higher education and research facilities in the province of Balochistan for skilled human resource development in the fields of Biological Sciences. Besides offering educational programs the institute is also promoting research and development at national level in collaboration with local, national and international research centers.
The focused research areas are designed to ensure human and animal health. This extra care leads to enhance production of Livestock. The CASVAB also provides facilities for basic research on water and food microbiology and general pathogens of human origin.
This research and education center is equipped the laboratories for research and development. The working laboratories of CASVAB are Microbiology, Biotechnology, Physiology, Parasitology, Toxicology, Nutrition, Computer Assisted Semen Analyzer (CASA), Scanning Electron Microscope, Genetic analyser, thermo-cyclers, fermentors, RO water unit, autoclavation units, walk-in-incubators and refrigerators and supporting facilities like library, lab animals resource, experimental animal house, Technology Transfer and IT Section.
The most important area of this center is the production of cost-effective vaccine at local level. The center offers disease control of livestock through mass scale vaccination. The Centre has well prepared and equipped laboratories for vaccine production which produce various kinds of vaccines in bacterial viral sections. The vaccines are not provided to Government of Balochistan but also supplied to Punjab, Sindh and KPK. The center has produced 182 Million Doses of different vaccines from 2005-2017.
The center has different areas for research and development that are working in their relevant fields laboratories are fully functional and providing services at their best. The microbiology section works in bacterial and viral disease diagnosis, development of new vaccines, trials on effective adjuvants, quality control/assurance laboratory, food and water microbiology, and environmental and industrial microbiology. Similarly, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory works in fields of genome analysis of viral and bacterial isolates molecular diagnosis of diseases, vaccinology, tissue culture technology, characterization of local sheep and cattle breeds, and food biotechnology. The Nutrition and Toxicology working areas are food and feed analysis, non-conventional feeding in livestock, development of inexpensive feeds, growth factors/promoters for livestock, and assessment of mycotoxins. Additionally, Physiology and Endocrinology lab are conducting research in estrus cycle control, reproductive disorders, breeds characterization, cryopreservation of germplasm.
The vaccines being produced are Anthrax Spore Vaccine (ASV), Enterotoxaemia cum Lamb Dysentery Vaccine (ETV), Hemorrhagic Septicemia Vaccine (HSV), Black Quarter Vaccine (BQV), Contagious Caprine Pleuro-pneumonia Vaccine (CCPV) and among live viral vaccines which are produced on cell culture include are Sheep Pox Vaccine (SPV), Goat Pox Vaccine (GPV) and Peste des petits ruminants virus Vaccine (PPRV). The R&D for Foot and Mouth Virus (FMDV) having local isolates has been completed. This activity has been capped due to insufficient/unavailability of purpose built building. All of these vaccines are produced in different quantities and are supplied to entire Pakistan in very market oriented packaging.
Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Muhammad Masood Tariq Kiani as Director; CASVAB has played a tremendous role to fulfil the local as well as national needs of livestock vaccines. CASVAB has worked immensely to cure PPR which is an acute disease of small ruminants that causes low productivity as well as great economic losses in many countries including Pakistan. The PPR vaccine prepared at CASVAB is an effective tool to limit PPR disease in goats as well as to reduce economic losses due to this disease in Pakistan. There has been pressing need to control this disease through vaccination in Pakistan which is being trustfully fulfilled by CASVAB.
The CASVAB is closely working with private sector to enhance R&D in livestock vaccine, and to cater the needs of current and future demands of this sector.
The author is Professor at CASVAB UoB, having 34 years of experience in the field of Microbiology and Vaccinology.