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From a posting on

Thursday, January 06, 2005

 by Matthew on
"...... Enigma Diagnostics, funded by 5 million from a consortium of investors led by Porton Capital (a spin off from the MOD) and the treasury, and including private venture capital will launch fully automated diagnostic machines encapsulating the PCR process which will allow:

* field tests for animal diseases, including FMD and Tb within 30 minutes, rather than sending samples to a far flung laboratory and awaiting their analysis
* detect food contamination such as salmonella, e.coli and listeria.
* fast diagnosis of meningitis etc.

A single machine currently costs around 40,000 but that figure is expected to drop to about 10,000 once mass production kicks in.

Now that the UK has its own PCR cycler machine available, it has been suggested that although this technology can only be used as complementary to the primary intradermal skin test in cattle, there may be a place for it to give rapid identification of Tb in badgers. We have spoken before of the appalling sensitivety of the so called 'Brock' ELISA test on a negative reading, (40.7 percent) and this tool could refine diagnosis with much more accuracy.

The potential advantage of the PCR over gamma interferon in cattle, is that it should be able to differentiate between bovine Tb (m.bovis) and avian (m.avium) particularly in cases where wildlife interface is not identified as a cause, and speed up clearance of movement restrictions.

Of course, if a wildlife reservoir of Tb is allowed to flourish then as we have seen, none of these diagnostic tools will halt its spread."