A NEW vaccine which may treat the disease plaguing koala populations will do nothing to ensure survival of the iconic species unless its habitat is protected, according to activists.
University of the Sunshine Coast microbiologists Professor Peter Timms and Dr Adam Polkinghorne have been conducting a field trial over the past year involving wild koalas roaming in their natural habitat in the Moreton Bay region.
Thirty koalas received the vaccine for chlamydia and 30 remained unvaccinated as a control group. All 60 koalas were fitted with radio collars so they could be monitored.
Prof Timms said the vaccinated animals all showed good immune responses to the vaccine and, importantly, decreased chlamydia infection levels compared with the unvaccinated controls.
However, Australian Koala Foundation president Deborah Tabart, while pleased with the success of the trial, said habitat loss remained the biggest threat.
Ms Tabart said the assault at national and state level on environment laws driven by the mining and property sectors was ongoing and could ultimately lead to the species' demise.
Prof Timms said his team's research, which began at the Queensland University of Technology, had been funded by two Australian Research Council Linkage grants totalling more than $550,000 and had received significant support.
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