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Identification of biomarkers of TB in badgers for diagnostic development - SD0503

The most sensitive approach to diagnosis of M. bovis infection in badgers is the bacteriological culture of individual tissue samples obtained post mortem from a range of anatomical sites. The only methods currently available for the rapid diagnosis of TB in badgers, which could potentially be applied in-field, are based on the detection of antibody responses to infection (e.g. Brock TB Stat-Pak). However, these methods lack sufficient sensitivity, detecting only 46-55% of infected individuals. Diagnostic assays based on the detection of earlier stages of the immune response to infection (e.g. IFN-gamma test) are more sensitive but currently require specialised laboratory facilities and technical expertise. New in vitro diagnostics that can be used to test live animals are required and are currently the subject of Defra project SE3281 run by the AHVLA.

This project will provide additional data to that generated in our initial pilot study and will add robustness to the results obtained. However, the small scale of the work proposed here does not allow scope for validation of candidate biomarkers. Further funding will be sought for that purpose, which will then enable publication of the outputs.
The aim of this research is to identify key molecules with biomarker potential that will form the basis for development of new diagnostic tests for TB in badgers. The government's strategy to control the disease would benefit from new robust and rapid diagnostic tests to underpin selective removal of infected/infectious badgers and potentially mitigate some of the negative effects of unselective culling. Such tests would also be a valuable research tool to deploy in studies of disease dynamics and other management interventions such as vaccination.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2013

Cost: £18,186
Contractor / Funded Organisations