International consortium to develop bovine TB test

Professor Luis Mur on the right is leading the consortium at IBERS Aberystwyth University; pictured with his PhD student Richard Pizzey, who is a qualified vet.

Professor Luis Mur on the right is leading the consortium at IBERS Aberystwyth University; pictured with his PhD student Richard Pizzey, who is a qualified vet.

20 July 2018

Scientists at Aberystwyth University’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) are leading a new international consortium launched to develop a new test for bovine tuberculosis.

The consortium will develop a rapid, high-accuracy point of care diagnostic test with an integrated, secure, cloud-based data system for the detection, management and control of bovine tuberculosis.

The other consortium partners are University College Dublin and four UK-based life sciences companies – Dynamic Extractions, Sona nanotech, ProTEM and Bond Digital Health Solutions.

Professor Mike Gooding, Director of IBERS said: “The economic and emotional cost of bovine TB to rural communities can be devastating, which is why a more accurate and reliable testing system is urgently needed. Our approach could be a game changer in detecting TB more efficiently.

“Each member of this consortium represents a different piece of the puzzle, offering its own unique expertise and cutting-edge science or technology and by putting all these puzzle pieces together we will come up with an effective and scalable solution to this problem.”

Bovine TB is an infectious disease that affects cattle and other mammals around the world.

In the UK, tens of thousands of cattle are destroyed every year because of the disease, which has a huge economic cost to the farming community and the tax payer.

Some governments have tried to halt the spread of the disease by culling wild animals, mainly badgers, which has proved highly controversial.

Policymakers are also working to eradicate bovine TB using a rigorous testing programme, but the results of the most commonly used tests are unable to detect all TB infected cattle within a herd.

As a result, when a test result appears positive, cattle herds must be quarantined and then re-tested after 60 days. This represents a massive economic and emotional cost to a farmer and affects long-term planning.

Dr Christianne Glossop, Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales said “We are taking a keen interest in all developments in respect of new TB tests and we welcome innovative approaches. The potential uses of a validated test to be developed by this  consortium is exciting, not only for the Wales TB Eradication Programme with the prospect of achieving OTF (Officially TB Free)  status earlier; but on a world wide scale, both in terms of Bovine TB and Human TB. The success of this project could put Wales firmly on the global map”.

The consortium will work together to develop a new, cost-effective, rapid and accurate point of use test for bovine TB that will allow the monitoring of farm animals, native wildlife populations, farm produce and the environment.

Data gathered from the tests will be integrated into databases, which will lead to more accurate epidemiology monitoring and the development of informed disease strategy.