Field trials to test the performance of a tuberculosis skin test in livestock have begun in New Zealand.
Scientists hope the trials will lead to the development of a new test that will allow farmers to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated cattle – known as a “DIVA” test – in field conditions.
PolyBatics, a biotech company based in Palmerston North, New Zealand, has developed a DIVA test based on bioanoparticle technology called Assign-bTB.
It says the product is the first such test able to differentiate Mycobacterium bovis-infected animals from those vaccinated against bovine TB.
PolyBatics believes the new technology will reduce the number of false positive tests and the need to retest animals that have shown an inconclusive reaction.
“If successful, we expect use of Assign-bTB will reduce the number of false positives to the skin test,” explained Paul Livingstone, manager of TB Eradication and Research for TBfree New Zealand.
“This will reduce the need for retesting which will, in turn, provide potential cost savings to the TB control program.”
The UK’s Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) is finalising work on its own TB cattle vaccine and accompanying DIVA test. DEFRA expects field trials to begin in England and Wales this year .
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