Dr Jayne Hope and colleagues at the Institute for Animal Health's
Compton Laboratory have developed a test that can distinguish
cattle that have been vaccinated against bovine tuberculosis
(TB) from those that had been infected by the causative agent,
the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis.
Bovine TB in UK cattle herds, caused by infection with M. bovis,
costs approximately £90 million annually, with risks to animal
and human health. Vaccination of cattle against TB using the BCG
vaccine is under active consideration. BCG is the vaccine used
to immunise people against TB.
BCG-vaccinated cattle test positive using the tuberculin skin
test. Therefore, an essential part of any bovine TB vaccination
strategy is being able to distinguish vaccinated cattle from infected
Research by Dr Jayne Hope and her colleagues Dr Chris Howard and
Paul Sopp showed that immune system cells of cattle that had previously
been infected by M. bovis had far more of a protein called gamma
interferon than did TB-vaccinated ones. This discovery has led
Dr Hope to develop a rapid diagnostic test that could allow same
day, on farm, diagnosis of TB and differentiation from vaccinated
animals. Commercialisation of this test is being investigated.
Dr Hope said: "The ultimate benefit of accurate diagnosis
of disease, in the light of vaccination, would be a reduction in
the incidence of bovine TB with associated improvements in animal
health and welfare, and livelihood of farmers. By reducing the
incidence of TB in the UK there would be improved economic competitiveness
in the farming industry."
In recognition of the research that led to this development, Dr
Hope recently received an award at the annual Animal Health Awards
organised by Animal Pharm in London. Jayne and her team were winners
in the "Outstanding Contribution by an Academic or Scientific
The research was funded by the Department of the Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs.
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