Creators of highly sensitive bovine TB test win major dairy award

The test was initially launched in the UK in 2017 (Photo: PBD Biotech)
The test was initially launched in the UK in 2017 (Photo: PBD Biotech)

The creators of a bovine TB test which enables the rapid identification of cattle infected with Mycobacteria have won a major dairy award.

Dr Ben Swift and Dr Cath Rees, creators of the method, both won the Royal Dairy Innovation Award for their efforts.

They were presented with the award by Anne, Princess Royal at an award ceremony at Buckingham Palace on 16th April 2019.

The award recognises research and development in the field of dairy farming and is awarded for the most practical, relevant product or service which is, or likely to be the most significant innovation for the future.

The winning test is able to detect mycobacteria in the blood and milk of cattle, within just six hours using a bacteriophage-based technique.

As a result, cattle affected by Mycobacterium bovis, the bacteria that causes bovine TB, can be diagnosed for the disease more quickly, allowing for more effective disease management in herds.

Additionally, the test has been used to effectively detect Johne’s Disease – another endemic illness that affects dairy cattle – in new born calves for the first time.

By being able to catch the disease at an early stage, this test can help further with controlling infections in dairy herds.

The test is now licenced to spin-out company, PBD Biotech Ltd and marketed as Actiphage™. It can also be used as a highly sensitive quality assurance test in milk and dairy products.

Dr Swift said: “It is really exciting to be recognised with this award. Translating technology from the bench to be used in real-world scenarios is a great thing and really shows the impact of our research. Hopefully this will help manage two extremely difficult diseases in the UK and worldwide.”