Demonstrating the potential for portable detection of bird flu.

Lead Participant: B G RESEARCH LIMITED

Abstract

Project aim is to provide capability for early in-field direct testing of unprocessed biological samples e.g. swabs and blood for economically important veterinary pathogens, in this case screening swab samples taken from the beaks and cloaca of birds for detecting "bird flu". Initially we aim to support existing lab testing and ultimately explore the potential for moving tests into the field or farm.

BG Research have developed a novel method and instrument for performing sensitive in-field molecular diagnostic tests for the detection of viruses without the requirement for expert scientists or shipping of samples to a test-lab and utilising the gold-standard PCR test methodology. Tests could be performed at ports of entry to prevent diseases being imported, on farms or at slaughterhouses to support surveillance/quarantine and emergency response.

By performing rapid, sensitive, and cost-effective tests wherever required, the BGR technology could help protect the UK by preventing potential importation of infectious diseases at entry points and expedite outbreak response where incursions require rapid disease response activities. For example, the outbreaks of FMD in the UK cost the economy £10bn and COVID-19 is thought to have originated from wildlife. Such technology could assist Defra to more effectively monitor transboundary veterinary diseases and provide real-time data to contribute to the control of these diseases, reducing the socio-economic impacts of future outbreaks.

We will develop the platform from a lab-based technology demonstrator into a late-stage prototype capable of being operated off-grid and moving the technology closer to the intended portable testing market. Test development assessment will be undertaken at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) where the necessary scientific expertise and facilities required to work with these pathogens are available. Bird flu has been in the news continually for the past few years and over 8.5 million UK birds have been lost/culled in that period, the impact of this has been seen by the consumer by the lack of eggs in the supermarket and turkeys for Christmas. A novel tool such as this could assist in future outbreak management -- reducing the economic burden and reducing the risk of bird flu becoming a human pathogen.

The platform and associated validated tests would be made in the UK and marketed globally by BG, supporting growth and employment in UK Life Sciences and supply chains, while ensuring the UK is better prepared to respond to future epidemics of important human and animal pathogens.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

B G RESEARCH LIMITED £298,425 £ 208,898
 

Participant

ANIMAL AND PLANT HEALTH AGENCY £44,701
ASTON UNIVERSITY
BIOGENE LIMITED

Publications

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