Pen-side test for bovine respiratory disease may save cattle industry millions, reduce antibiotic use

The professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the College of Agriculture works in his lab. The on-site test was developed by Verma. Credit: Tom Campbell

An idea that took promising technology out of the lab and into the barn was inspired by sous-vide cooking. The on-site bovine respiratory disease test developed by researchers at Purdue University can provide results within an hour.

The most common and costly disease affecting cattle in the world is the point-of-care disease.

"We wanted to see if the technology is tough enough for the farm and how messy we could get," said Mohit Verma, assistant professor of agricultural and biological engineering, who led the research. We want the test to be easy to use, so we weren't overly cautious with cleaning. Respiratory disease can quickly spread from one animal to another. Quick diagnosis leads to proper treatment and reduces unnecessary use of antibiotics.

He said that the team added a color change from red to yellow to indicate the test results. A paper detailing the work was published.

The test worked well in the field and was improved to get it out of the lab and into the hands of farmers and veterinarians. The key to achieving this advancement was using a sous-vide water bath to maintain the temperature needed for it to work. My brother was doing sous-vide cooking and the idea came to him. It's easy to bring something to a farm, fill it with water and run the test there.

Half of all cattle deaths from disease in North America are caused by bovine respiratory disease, or BRD. The disease can be caused by several strains ofbacteria andviruses, which makes it difficult to treat.

Some of thebacteria that cause BRD have become resistant to antibiotics. The standard test can take several days to give a result, so farmers need to treat the cattle before they know the pathogen responsible. This can lead to use of antibiotics that are not effective.

Three strains ofbacteria can be identified by the technology created by the team.

The team that serves as biosensors for the bacteria developed a set of reagents and primers for the sample that is put into a small vial. The water bath is heated in order to enable the chemical reactions. If the test is designed for a certain type ofbacteria, the test will change color.

The technology uses a method of amplification called loop-mediated isothermal amplification, or LAMP. When there is a presence of the bacterial DNA, it is amplified by LAMP. The color change is caused by the level of nucleic acid changing.

A graduate student in the lab shows a new pen-side bovine respiratory disease test. Credit: Tom Campbell

The advantage of LAMP over other methods is that it does not require the use of expensive and lengthy equipment, and it can produce results in under an hour. The results were similar to those from aPCR test.

The first author of the paper is Ana Pascual-Garrigos, who worked on the project as an undergraduate student. Additional members of the research team and co-authors of the paper include:

Pascual-Garrigos is pursuing her PhD at the University of Cambridge, where she worked on a product that could greatly impact the cattle industry. It is possible to have more point-of-care solutions around the world.

The technology was advanced through a $1 million grant. The same technology is being used for a saliva-based test for COVID-19. Krishi Inc received $100,000 from the Ag-celerator fund.

Paper test strips are the next step in their pursuit of putting the technology into the hands of veterinarians and farmers. One strip could identify the presence of several different pathogens. They plan to apply the same approach to tests for other infectious diseases in cows and pigs.

"This platform can be used in many different ways," he said. We need to change the matrix for different pathogens. We believe that our technology can be used to detect new viruses quickly and help prevent global Pandemics.

Ana Pascual-Garrigos and her team have done colorimetric detection of Pasteurella multocida, Mannheimia haemolytica, and Histophilus somni in crude bovine nasal samples. There is a book titled "10186/s13567-021-00997-9".

The pen-side test for bovine respiratory disease may save the cattle industry millions.

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