UK - Scientists have found a new way of diagnosing foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) which is more cost effective and relies less on the use of small animals.
There are seven types of FMD virus (FMDV) that have high mutation rates which constantly generate new FMDV variants. This makes rapid diagnosis essential for vaccinating against the correct type of FMDV and correct control measures.
However, diagnostic tests have required small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs to produce proteins called antibodies, which bind to the viruses and detect them in samples. New antibodies are regularly needed due to the constantly changing virus strains.
Scientists at The Pirbright Institute, led by Gareth Shimmon, developed a shortened version of a bovine protein called integrin αvβ6 that binds to all FMD viruses. They were able to produce large amounts of the protein in the lab, meaning it has potential to make FMD testing much cheaper and quicker, as well as saving small animals from being used to produce antibodies.
Gareth Shimmon said: “The ability to rapidly produce a cost-effective universal diagnostic reagent for FMD is an important step forward in simplifying lab-based diagnostics and making these techniques more accessible to the many countries struggling to control this devastating disease.”
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