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Development of new serological tools for the identification of vaccinated and infected badgers for the control of bovine tuberculosis - SE3335

Description
The government’s 25-year bTB eradication strategy published in 2014 aims to secure officially bTB free (OTF) status for England by 2038. In 2018, the Environment Secretary commissioned an independent review of this strategy. The so-called Godfray Review was published in autumn 2018, and in its response of March 2020, government set out the ambitions planned for the next five years in pursuit of the eradication goal. It defined five top priorities. With specific relevance to this proposal are the plans to evolve the strategy for preventing the spread of bTB from wildlife.

Following the wide-scale deployment of intensive badger culling, government propose a shift towards non-lethal control methods by gradually replacing badger culling with badger BCG vaccination and improved surveillance. Both improved surveillance and assessment of BCG vaccination effectiveness require sensitive diagnostic tests that are fit for purpose.

Here we propose a development programme with an overarching aim to develop fit-for purpose badger serology-based surveillance and DIVA (Detecting Infected amongst Vaccinated Animals) tests with increased sensitivity to support the government’s eradication strategy.
Further, these tests, at the completion of this development program, will be in a Point of Capture (POC) trap-side test format.
The work we outline in this current proposal is the first stage in such a programme - to generate critical data which will establish the foundations and feasibility of improved badger serological diagnostic tests, and allow the development such POC devices in further work. This will also allow a GO/NO go decision at the end of the project proposed herein.

Our central hypothesis is that a systematic badger-oriented antigen discovery project could lead to serological tests with improved performance.
The central objective is to conduct a comprehensive Mycobacterium bovis proteome-wide antigen discovery program to identify novel antigens that can be used for serology-based improved surveillance and DIVA testing.

Specific objectives are:

1. Establishing a logistics framework to support antigen discovery and test development objectives in this project.
2. Comprehensive antigen screening to identify targets for improved serological tests.
3. Horizon scanning of technologies available for use as POC testing devices for surveillance and DIVA.

Expected outputs will include:

• A badger serum bank populated with serum from relevant animal categories, associated with a comprehensive and searchable database.
• Identification of novel M. bovis antigens recognized by antibodies in badger sera with utility to improve surveillance or DIVA capability over existing serological tests.
• Deployable ELISA or Luminex-based laboratory DIVA or surveillance test.
Landscaping potentially available Point of Capture PC) device technology.
Objective
1. Establishing a logistics framework to support antigen discovery and test development objectives in this project.
2. Comprehensive antigen screening to identify targets for improved serological tests.
3. Horizon scanning of technologies available for use as POC testing devices for surveillance and DIVA.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2021

To: 2024

Cost: £565,548
Contractor / Funded Organisations
APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency)
Keywords