A new farm-side diagnostic platform to detect poultry diseases

Newton Prize researcher demonstrates innovation in poultry farm in Philippines

The poultry industry in the Philippines accounts for 17 percent of the agricultural output, equating to 60 billion Pesos per annum. One major factor affecting the growth of the industry is the inability to rapidly and accurately detect bacterial and viral infections within flocks.

Currently, diagnostic methodology often relies on clinical observations. This is time consuming and can affect the ability to implement control measures to limit the spread of the disease to adjacent farms and into the human food chain.

To address this, the multidisciplinary team behind this project has developed a simple farm-side molecular diagnostic platform and complementary surveillance software that can be used at the site of infection and test for viral and bacterial pathogens.

Within eight months, the team successfully produced a portable, battery powered, stand-alone diagnostic platform. It abides by World Health Organisation guidelines for resource-poor settings, which means the device can be operated anywhere in the farm, eliminating the need for laboratory infrastructure, trained personnel, and additional equipment.

The total cost of the device is 95 percent lower than comparable commercially available devices, is validated against gold standard devices and is shown to perform to an equivalent standard. The team has also developed and demonstrated tests for the detection of Salmonella, E. coli. and Newcastle disease virus which can achieve detection within 30 minutes. Additionally, commercially available tests developed by a third party for the detection of Porcine epidemic diarrhoea has also been demonstrated.

The successful implementation of these technologies will restrict the spread of poultry infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and zoonotic pathogens through early detection and containment.

"A low-cost, simple system like the device demonstrated will University of the Philippines Diliman be of great use to farm veterinarians and farm managers in monitoring and controlling poultry diseases with ease."

Dr Antonio Augustus Laranas - The Chicken Doctors, Philippines

Low-cost portable molecular diagnostic platform for rapid detection of poultry infectious pathogens

Project leads: Professor Wamadeva Balachandran, Brunel University London, UK and Dr Dennis Umali, University of Philippines Los Banos

Delivery partners: Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation and the Department of Agriculture – Biotechnology Programme, Philippines

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