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Study Aims for New Solution for Bovine Tuberculosis

05 December 2013

INDIA - Scientists in the UK and India have acquired a grant to develop a cheaper and more accurate diagnostic test and accompanying vaccine for bovine tuberculosis.

The pioneering three year project hinges on the deletion of some antigens in the tuberculosis vaccine (BCG), creating a minus strain which can then only detect a limited number of antigens.

The desired result is to replace the current cattle skin test only yielding positive results if infection with the tuberculosis bacillus was detected.

"While other labs are looking for BCG plus strains, we are doing the opposite and looking at minus strains,” said Professor Johnjoe McFadden, Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Surrey.

This will ensure the vaccine works with more affordable diagnostic tests, he added.

The test, if successfully developed in India, could be transferred to the UK, although current UK legislation outlaws the BCG vaccination, due to it currently interfering with diagnostics.

The Surrey University staff emphasised the impact new tuberculosis technology could have in India, where 70 per cent of milk is processed by the ‘unorganised sector’, outlining the inherent hygeine implications. 

Furthermore, human health could be helped by the study.

Professor McFadden said: "If a suitable new vaccine and diagnostic test can be developed for use in India, it could potentially be transferred to the UK, subject to relevant legislation changes, or even translated for use in humans, avoiding the need for an X-ray to confirm diagnosis following a positive test for TB."



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