A new test for diagnosing bovine tuberculosis (TB) could prevent costly quarantines and the mass slaughter of infected animals
Sciencedaily reports that the Chemistry for Bio medical Applications team at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed an assay originally developed for human TB to bovine TB. The assay can detect the disease in blood by recognising the biomarker for the disease, called lipoaribinomannan (LAM). This makes it the first direct, empirical, blood-based, cow-side test for this disease. The team also identified biomarkers associated with diseases like tuberculosis, food poisoning, leprosy and others.
Leader of the lab, Harshini Mukundan said: "We have validated the assay in cows that were positive controls of a vaccination study done at the US Department of Agriculture, tested at different time points during the course of infection.”
The idea for the bovine application evolved from discussions between Laboratory researchers and scientists at the New Mexico health laboratory, who recognised the need for rapid detection by ranchers seeking to ship their herds. "It's one of these things that took on a life of its own," Mukundan said. The conversations eventually included a request from the New Mexico Livestock Board's state veterinarian at the time, David Fly, who reached out to the New Mexico Small Business Assistance programme (which involves Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories). Mukundan's team responded, collaborating with a number of interested ranchers in the state.
Research such as the TB detection project aligns with the Laboratory's national security science mission in providing innovative tools for improving responses to emerging threats to health.
Emmy Koeleman studied Animal Sciences at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She is the editor of Dairy Global and All About Feed.