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Low-cost Diagnostic Platform for Detection of Poultry Infectious Pathogens

Ongoing

 

Funding body

Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council

Investigator(s)

Principal investigator: Wamadeva Balachandran
 

Project description

Low-cost Portable Molecular Diagnostic Platform for Rapid Detection of Poultry Infectious Pathogens

The poultry industry in the Philippines accounts for 15% of the agricultural output, equating to 123.5  billion pesos per annum and is growing at a few percent per annum. One factor affecting growth is an inability to rapidly diagnose   and track disease outbreaks within the chicken population. There are a range of bacterial and viral pathogens which affect the poultry industry. Diagnosis is currently reliant on a drop in production performance, presence of clinical signs, pathological lesions and serological findings. As such, the diagnostic time is quite long and this can affect the ability to implement control measures to limit the spread of the disease to adjacent poultry farms and also avoid zoonosis.

Although the key disease pathogens are well known, Newcastle disease, infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV), avian infectious bronchitis (IB), Salmonellosis, Avian Pathogenic E. coli (APEC) and mycoplasma gallisepticum, it is unclear at this present time what the particular strain or strains are, which affect the Philippines or any information on the genetic diversity of these. Therefore, there is a real need for accurate and rapid diagnosis of poultry infections using molecular techniques. When it is considered that a relatively small  increase or decrease in production can make a very large economic impact.

To address this, a multidisciplinary consortium from the UK (Brunel University London, Surrey University and the Pribright Institute) and the Philippines (College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of the Philippines Los Banos, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Cavite State University and the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Eastern Philippines) has been formed.

Using the complimentary skills of those involved the project proposes to develop and translate to the Philippines a rapid easy to use point of need molecular diagnostic test that can be used at the site of infection and test for the key viral and bacterial pathogens identified which are of current concern.

The system will consist of a sample collection and preparation device and a small instrument approximately the size of a large matchbox, which will be wirelessly connected to a smartphone. The smartphone app will run the assay and display the results. The results can also be sent wirelessly to a disease control and management centre, and used for surveillance purposes. The platform can be relatively easily adapted for any new and emerging strains of these pathogens. Once the system is laboratory validated it will be evaluated in the field in Philippines. In addition, agreements will be sought to transfer the technology to the Philippines for largescale manufacture thus providing for a secondary economic benefit .

The proposed research activities will yield a field-based diagnostic platform that would be applicable for diagnosis of most prevalent bacterial and viral infections in the poultry industry. Such provision would be phenomenal to enhance in-country capabilities to effectively diagnose pathogens and to empower field academic veterinarians to effectively and reliably initiate therapeutic and prophylactic measures in safeguarding the vulnerable poultry industry. Additionally, due to ease of diagnosis this platform would be an ideal tool for low-equipped diagnostic laboratories in less developed areas in resource poor settings. Collectively, these tools will enhance personal, regional and national capabilities to not only streamline the disease control and monitoring strategies but also will provide advanced tools to apply in the field conditions with minimum investment and infrastructures.