Clarity Biosolutions won £299,736 (US$423,988) in funding. It has set up an alliance with Canadian firm, Sona Nanotech, to develop a reliable test for bovine TB.
Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is caused by a particular bacterium that affects cows but can be passed on to practically all mammals, including humans. The usual route of infection is through the inhalation of infected droplets which are expelled from the lungs by coughing. Because the course of the disease is slow, an undetected cow can spread the disease to many others in a herd before it begins to show any visible signs of illness. Unregulated movement of infected but undetected cows, along with contact with infected wild animals, are the major ways that the disease is spread.
Accurate detection, herd management and movement control are critical to achieving the eradication of the disease. The current test for bTB on farm herds is relatively subjective relying on individual veterinary practitioner interpretation, however. It is also not sensitive enough to detect all the cows that are infected therefore making eradication impossible, said the companies involved in this consortium.
Control measures for bTB have cost the industry over £500m in the last 10 years. Those costs are expected to top £1bn over the next decade if no new action is taken, they said.
A new, effective test is urgently needed.
The consortium is aiming to eliminate inaccurate test results frequently experienced by farming communities across the country but also worldwide. The collaborators said such ‘false negative’ results lead to infected animals being missed, bringing enormous economic and emotional cost to farmers, society and governments.
“This project combines the latest cutting-edge science and technological developments with world-class research, state of the art facilities and expertise, to develop a new highly accurate, objective test to rapidly detect, manage, control and ultimately eradicate bTB.”