Translating miRNA biomarker discovery into novel veterinary diagnostics to increase the efficiency of milk production

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: The Roslin Institute


This study will address the long-standing problem of low fertility in dairy cows which through reduced milk production results in significant profit loss by UK and global industries. We will develop and commercialise a robust, affordable assay for early pregnancy detection to facilitate reproductive management of cows and increase milk production efficiency. Specifically, following on our previous discovery of early pregnancy biomarkers we will establish optimum conditions for miRNA quantification in blood and milk for accurately determining early pregnancy status in commercial cattle. We will then seek to develop and test a novel assay platform for direct and accurate detection of miRNAs in cattle samples using proprietary nucleic acid technology. Finally, we will launch a laboratory-based or pen-side assay through spin-out company creation or licensing to existing Diagnostics companies. We envision this will bring significant improvements to productivity and welfare of dairy cows.


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Description We have identified a number of messenger RNAs which levels increase in cattle during early pregnancy and that could provide optimum biomarkers for early pregnancy diagnosis
Exploitation Route Development of novel diagnostic tests for early pregnancy detection in cattle
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description Collaboraion with DestiNA Genomics to develop novel diagnostic biomarkers for livestock 
Organisation DestiNA Genomics Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Scientific expertise in molecular biomarkers and access to farm animal samples
Collaborator Contribution Provision of proprietary technology for direct nucleic acid detection in clinical samples
Impact BBSRC: Super FoF project - miRNA based diagnostics to improve livestock production (£473000, 2020-2022) BBSRC: FTMA -Translating MiRNA Biomarker Discovery Into Novel Veterinary Diagnostics To Increase The Efficiency Of Milk Production (£ 10039; 2020 - 2020) BBSRC: BB/S011277/1 - Pathfinder (TR) - miRNA-based diagnostics to improve livestock production (£ 12097; 2018 - 2019) BBSRC: ISCF-TFP-SA-Edinburgh - Sub-award from ISCF Transforming Food Production Seeding Award (ISCF-TFP-SA-Edinburgh). 'Roslin-DestiNA Genomics Ltd collaboration: a microRNA (miRNA) diagnostic platform for early pregnancy diagnosis in dairy cattle'. (£ 19250; 2018 - 2019) BBSRC: ISCF-TFP-SA-Edinburgh - Sub-award from ISCF Transforming Food Production Seeding Award (ISCF-TFP-SA-Edinburgh). 'Exploring the commercialisation potential or miRNA diagnostics for dairy cattle'. (£ 6200; 2018 - 2019)
Start Year 2019
Description Development of miRNA-based animal diagnostics using PCR-free technology 
Year Established 2020 
Impact None