Grant awarded to develop a multiplex rapid test for mastitis

Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine and a UK diagnostic test manufacturer have been awarded more than £800,000 (€926,000) to develop a fast on-farm mastitis test for cattle.

The grant will be offered by Innovate UK as part of the Innovation in Health and Life Sciences Round 3 competition.

The production-limiting disease has an estimated £14-23 billion (€16-€27.6 billion) impact on the global dairy industry.

The team behind the project said current detection methods – visually inspecting milk; temperature monitoring; or through time-consuming laboratory methods – all had their limitations.

The potential

The project is expected to take around 30 months to complete and will be undertaken in partnership with diagnostic test developer Abingdon Health.

It aims to combine the diagnostic expertise of Abingdon with the animal health and biomarker knowledge of the university researchers in order to develop a highly sensitive and specific test.

A multiplex assay is a type of test used to simultaneously measure multiple factors in a single run.

The test will have the ability to stratify mastitis by bacterial class and offer fast information so that decisions can be made immediately about whether antimicrobial treatment is appropriate for the cow.

It’s hoped one outcome of the project could be to help reduce antimicrobial use whilst safeguarding cow health.

Pressure to reduce antimicrobial use

Prof. David Eckersall, University of Glasgow’s bio-marker expert, said: “This Innovate UK project is to commercialise the development of diagnostic tests for mastitis, which is the most serious health problem in dairy farming.

The project is the culmination of a decade-long research programme where we have identified and characterised, in the laboratory, potential bio-markers for this disease.

“The project will translate our research into technology that can be used on the farm and also demonstrate its value in the dairy industry.”

The university’s project lead Prof. Ruth Zadoks added: “The pressure to reduce the use of antimicrobials in food production is growing rapidly, and some countries have already imposed limitations on antimicrobial use – such as quota.

“We must provide dairy farmers with the tools to minimize antimicrobial use without jeopardising cow health or food safety.

“This project, and the School of Veterinary Medicine’s good relationship with the dairy industry, enable us to do so.”