Gene for Chicken Interleukin 15...

Case ID:

Our researchers have cloned chicken IL-15 and related avian lymphokines for use as avian vaccine adjuvants.  The inventors have shown experimentally that chicken IL-15 can enhance vaccine effectiveness in chickens.


Background & Unmet Need:

Most chickens produced in developed countries for consumption and egg-laying (at least 10 billion per year) are vaccinated to protect them against Marek's disease, a highly contagious viral neoplastic disease.  For optimal protection, Marek's vaccination is performed either at or before hatching.  One obstacle to the development of efficacious pre-hatching and at-hatching vaccination regimens is that the embryonic and newly hatched avian immune system is not fully developed and cannot mount as effective an immune response to the immunogen compared to 2-3 weeks after hatching.  Thus, there is a need for agents and compositions that enhance the effectiveness of pre- and post-hatching avian vaccines.  Interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interleukin-15 (IL-15) are related cytokines that stimulate the activity and proliferation of T cells in mammals.  Although IL-2 and IL-15 both interact with the β and γ chains of the IL-2 receptor, they represent distinct gene products.  The genes encoding IL-15 from several different mammalian species share a high degree of homology.  It is produced by mitogen-activated spleen cells.  Accordingly, the discovery of chicken IL-15 and the finding that it possesses T cell-stimulatory activity provide a novel reagent for vaccine augmentation in avian species. 


Technology Description:

Our researchers have discovered a method and vaccine for enhancing immune response in fowl to an immunogen, which is achieved by administering the immunogen before, after, or simultaneously with avian IL-15.  The present invention provides isolated and purified DNA encoding avian IL-15, as well as cloning and expression vectors comprising IL-15 DNA and cells transformed with IL-15-encoding vectors.  Avian species from which IL-15 may be derived include chicken, turkey, duck, goose, quail and pheasant.  The invention also provides isolated and purified avian IL-15 polypeptide, which has the ability to stimulate mitogen-activated avian T cells and promotes the growth of other cell types.  IL-15 according to the present invention may be obtained from native or recombinant sources.  Also encompassed by the invention are sequence-conservative and function‑conservative variants of avian IL-15 DNA and IL-15 polypeptides, including a bioactive IL-15 sequence or sub-fragment that is fused in-frame to a purification sequence.


Commercial Applications:

  • Adjuvant avian vaccination therapy


Stage of Development:



Competitive Advantages:

  • Enhancement of both magnitude and quality of immune responses
  • Ability to stimulate mitogen-activated T cells
  • Ability to stimulate growth of other cell types


Intellectual Property Status:

Patent application filed


Related Publications or Citations of Work:


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Joan Dunbar
Associate Vice President for Technology Commercialization
Wayne State University
(313) 577-5542
Roy Sundick
Lily Jones
David Smith